Book Review

Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science



Jackson Williams K (2015) Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science. Annals of Science, 72 (3), pp. 409-411.

First paragraph: Ars longa, vita brevis – ‘art is long, life short’. The methods by which scholars have attempted to circumvent this seemingly insurmountable contradiction, first posed by Hippocrates of Cos in the fifth century BCE, have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. The conundrum posed by ‘Hippocrates’s Complaint’ was at the heart of Ann Blair’s landmark Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age (2010). Blair explored the information overload faced by members of the early modern Republic of Letters and mapped the textual tools they devised to cope with an ars which seemed to grow longer by the moment. She also recovered the ways in which these early modern scholars thought about the increasing torrent of information. Some longed for a purge, leaving only a few truly useful texts, while others subscribed to another ancient aphorism, this time allegedly given form by Pliny the Elder, that there was no book so bad that some good might not be derived from it.

Output Type: Book Review

Annals of Science: Volume 72, Issue 3

FundersUniversity of St Andrews
Publication date31/12/2015
Publication date online03/03/2015
Date accepted by journal13/10/2014
PublisherInforma UK Limited

People (1)


Dr Kelsey Williams

Dr Kelsey Williams

Associate Professor, English Studies