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Jan Everyman and the Problem of Readership

  • Craig E. Harline
Chapter
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Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 116)

Abstract

Despite all the efforts to appeal to a popular reading public, obstacles such as limited printing runs, overly complex texts, illiteracy, and indifference assuredly prevented pamphlets from always hitting their mark. But just as assuredly, these obstacles were overcome. Determining the actual audience of any medium is a difficult business, yet it must be attempted. As we have seen, the practice of putting one s ideas before the public became increasingly common, illustrating that at least pamphleteers and book dealers believed their little books were successful— and with good reason. After 1600, many—perhaps most—Dutch men and women could read. Moreover, as Natalie Davis has shown, the penetration of printing into the lives of common people was more than a question of literacy1 Also of significance were the cost and availability of reading materials, opportunities for group reading, and a desire for the kind of information printed media contained. Indeed, perhaps most important is whether Dutch men and women were interested in current affairs, so that even those unable to read a pamphlet might listen when it was read aloud. Such extensive interest in pamphlets and politics would mean that these little books could assume an importance out of proportion to their mere numbers.

Keywords

Group Reading Blue Book Peace Talk Current Affair Late News 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1987

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