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Review of Zeev Gries, The Book in the Jewish World 1700-1900

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Judaica Librarianship



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An important milestone in the study of the Jewish book was marked in 2002 with the publication of Ze'ev Gries's ha-Sefer ke-sokhen tarbut, be-shanim 1700-1900 ("The Book as an Agent of Culture, 1700-1900"). In this "slim volume," as he subsequently and modestly would refer to it, Gries introduced his readers to what he calls in Hebrew "toldot ha-sefer ha-Yehudi" (the "History of the Jewish book"). The book, based on his twenty-five previous years of research in the field, offered new insights and raised new questions. Thanks to this 2007 English-language edition, Gries's scholarship happily can reach a broader audience. Moreover, as Gries explains in his preface to the English edition, "the present volume draws heavily on (the Hebrew edition) but is not a direct translation." At the same time, Gries acknowledges and thanks Jeffrey Green for translating the original "Hebrew text as the basis of the present book." Originally published in Hebrew by ha-J9buts ha-me'ul).ad at the suggestion of its founding editor, Meir Ayali, the English edition is published appropriately by the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, a cultural broker that brings to the English reading public important works of classical Jewish literature and modern scholarship that were originally written in Hebrew. However, for those interested in a comprehensive survey of the topic, as the title seems to promise, this book falls short of that expectation in several important ways.

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Date Posted: 22 March 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.