Essays in Honour of Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser
Edited By Simon Rosenberg and Sandra Simon
Forms of Addressing the Educated Reader in Early Printed Paratexts
Torsten Wieschen, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster
This article focuses on the importance of paratexts in early printed humanist material and how and by which means a humanist readership was addressed. Both authors and printers made use of prefaces and other paratextual elements to show their distinct education and to attract a prolific readership.
When Thomas Berthelet printed Thomas Elyot’s Boke Named the Gouernour in 1531, the published text was accompanied by a short notice of the printer:
Consydering that in settynge the letters to print there can nat be alway so exacte diligence used / but that some thing may happe to eskape worthy correction / all though Argus were the artificer. I therfore wyll desyre the gentill reders of this warke that or they seriously rede it / they will amende the defautes in printynge accordinge to the instructions immediately folowynge.1
Berthelet then continued with a list of errata including corrections of spelling and content. The printer obviously wanted the reader to have an uncorrupted version of the text and excused himself for lacking diligence in setting the letters. He directly addresses the ‘gentle reader’ to seriously read the text and amend the errors.
The actual preface to the work, or in this case “Proheme,” was written by Elyot himself and had a specific reader in mind, as he dedicated the work to King Henry VIII. Apart from the usual dedicational and humble choice...
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