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Reviewed by:
  • The Hebrew Book in Early Modern Italy ed. by Joseph R. Hacker and Adam Shear
  • Yaakov Mascetti (bio)
Joseph R. Hacker and Adam Shear, eds., The Hebrew Book in Early Modern Italy ( Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 336 pp.

The transition from manuscript to print in early modern Europe had a wide array of effects, ranging from standardization, fixation, and preservation to an exponential increase in diffusion. Generally, printed books ignited a reorganization of knowledge and a disruption of hierarchies: texts became accessible to lower strata of society, thus allowing and providing for a secondary intelligentsia. This volume offers a composite reconstruction of the radical impact of print technologies on Jewish intellectual, cultural, and social life in Italy over a period of three hundred years, and in the process, it renders clear-cut distinctions between the Christian and Jewish intellectual circles of the time problematic and complicates the very idea of a “Jewish text.” Following the course of Hebrew texts from the desk of a Jewish scribe to printing houses owned by Christians but producing books for Jews (and not only in Hebrew), the editors and authors of this excellent collection not only construct, as they say, a “roadmap of questions and approaches that will stimulate the larger fields of book history, Jewish history, and their fruitful intersection” but also contribute material in support of present-day amity and comity between Jews and Christians in Europe. [End Page 530]

Yaakov Mascetti

Yaakov Mascetti is a lecturer in comparative literature at Bar-Ilan University, now completing a book on alchemy and John Donne.



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