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Apothecaries' cornets: Books as waste paper in the Renaissance

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-913
Number of pages23
JournalMLN - Modern Language Notes
Issue number4
Early online date1 Sep 2018
Accepted/In press14 Mar 2018
E-pub ahead of print1 Sep 2018
Published1 Sep 2018


King's Authors


Recycling a book's pages as waste paper was a literary commonplace in Antiquity and the early modern period, a way of imagining literary and physical mortality, but it was also a material practice. This article explores the material and the textual culture of the motif in sixteenth-century France, focusing on the printed page as material object. The underlying preoccupations of the motif – waste, copiousness, and materiality – offer ways of analysing the relationship between the material book and the immaterial text and how Renaissance writers conceived of the book and its recycling.

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