В целях экономии приводим далее описательную и реферативную аннотации статьи «Уильям Кэкстон».


Caxton and his mighty art

by Stanley Harrison

1. Printing came to England 500 years ago this autumn, when William Caxton, retired merchant, diplomat and thorough man of his time, set up his press within the precincts of Westminster Abbey. The time when the new technology became established was a kind of pre-dawn of the bourgeois revolution against the feudal order.

2. Caxton's "black art" invaded the mysterious sphere of writing and record keeping which, in an age of general illiteracy, had always been the preserve of the Church and the law and of administration and ideology conducted by clerics.

3. Printing, which gradually breached this magic circle, which founded the first of the media with a mass character, and which the bourgeois class in its ascendant phase rightly celebrated as one of its greatest triumphs and contributions to human progress, in its infancy stood even more in need of protection than did the other early trading and industrial efforts of the new class. Especially were perilous the days when the English monarchy had, lost its French possessions except Calais by 1453. In England there began almost a half century of the Yorkshire-Lancaster civil wars and general anarchy.

4. Caxton stayed in Flanders for almost thirty years as Governor of the English nation there. When he returned to London in 1476 into the midst of this maelstrom of collapsing feudal society, he was a past-master both in the'ways of trade and in the diplomatic skills without which his class of people could not have grown amid this hostile environment.

5. By his death in 1491, he headed a thriving business under the protection of the first Tudor,-Henry VII, whose reign wound up the wars.

6. His press had issued over 100 works — Chaucer, Lydgate, Malory, and translations of best-sellers, courtly manuals and romances from France and Burgundy, as well as the statutes of England, issued in English instead of the law-French in which the legal profession had operated since the Norman conquest.

7. Caxton' had to carve out a broad thoroughfare through the jungle of shire dialects, of great diversities of speech between classes, of conflict between ornate courtly and university speech and the many forms of the vernacular speech — and what pains it cost him. The same seething pot of talk and words from a hundred home and foreign sources that mounted into the final richness that was Shakespeare.

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