Walter Benjamin on the importance of printing and movable type  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

All excerpts on printing, writing and movable type in Walter Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction".

[W]ith the woodcut graphic art became mechanically reproducible for the first time, long before script became reproducible by print. The enormous changes which printing, the mechanical reproduction of writing, has brought about in literature are a familiar story. However, within the phenomenon which we are here examining from the perspective of world history, print is merely a special, though particularly important, case. --The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935/1936) - Walter Benjamin
[L]ithography enabled graphic art to illustrate everyday life, and it began to keep pace with printing. [in its ability to keep up with the speed of writing. --The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935/1936) - Walter Benjamin
[F]or centuries a small number of writers were confronted by many thousands of readers. This changed toward the end of the last century. With the increasing extension of the press, which kept placing new political, religious, scientific, professional, and local organs before the readers, an increasing number of readers became writers - at first, occasional ones. It began with the daily press opening to its readers space for 'letters to the editor.' And today there is hardly a gainfully employed European who could not, in principle, find an opportunity to publish somewhere or other comments on his work, grievances, documentary reports, or that sort of thing. Thus, the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character. The difference becomes merely functional; it may vary from case to case. At any moment the reader is ready to turn into a writer.] --The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935/1936) - Walter Benjamin




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