One form of creativity-through-constraint practised by Jean Lescure and Raymond Queneau and those French writers who in the 1960s styled themselves…
A brief experiment in cutting up poetry. I wondered what would happen if I tried to patch together an Edmund Spenser poem using William Shakespeare’s…
If you are having trouble remembering your sins in seventeenth-century France – if you feel you need some kind of spiritual prompt – then you could do…
In an article called ‘Printers of the Mind’, published in 1969, the bibliographer D.F. McKenzie unraveled certain fundamental assumptions imagined and…
In a hands-on ritual that has now largely been replaced by the beep of a bar code reader, borrowing a library book for many decades involved the…
If you are a bibliophile in London in the second half of the nineteenth century – or if you are any kind of reader at all – it’s likely you spend a good…
In 2016 I bought a 1904 copy of Edinburgh and Its Story by the Scottish journalist and author Oliphant Smeaton. What interested me, apart from the…
Printing produces large quantities of sheets that are no longer required: trials and drafts and mistakes and various kinds of paths not taken. Printing…
In Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma (1839), we follow the life of impetuous, rebellious young Italian aristocrat Fabrice del Dongo during the…
Here is Shakespeare’s sonnet 126 – ‘O thou my lovely boy who in thy power’ – as it appeared in 1609, in Shake-speares Sonnets: Neuer before Imprinted…
A book has been left on a wall, open to the elements, near where I live: Tilly Bagshawe’s Adored (2005), the story of Sienna McMahon, granddaughter of…
What does thought look like? For his 128-screen video work, Solo Scenes (1998), the Swiss artist Dieter Roth (1930-98) set up cameras in his house and…