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Gutenberg's Apprentice: A Novel
by Alix Christie
Available now via Hoopla! https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/12037079
This is a historical fiction story of the “dark art” of printing and the world’s printing predecessors from nearly six centuries ago set in a time of plague, superstition, the fall of Constantinople and extreme poverty. The year is 1450 and the place is the German city of Mainz. This late medieval city is part of the Holy Roman Empire and a central hub for long distance trade lines along its major waterways. Thus, it is best known for its clergy, nobility, merchants and artisans. The three main protagonists of this story, Johannes Gutenberg; Johann Fust, Gutenberg’s financer; and Peter Schöeffer, scribe turned printer and apprentice to Gutenberg are real historical figures that represent how a convergence of these trades led to the Printing Revolution. In partnership, albeit a very tumultuous one, they produced the first major publication made with movable metal type—the infamous Gutenberg Bible.Together these entrepreneurial men and their devoted laborers changed our world and provided writing and learning to the masses. They risked their lives to create mechanically printed text: an act that was considered an “evil” betrayal of societal norms and spiritual values. Yet, what they created goes beyond function, as art meets technology. This can be seen today in the surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible, which is appreciated for its aesthetic beauty and craftsmanship.
It is a story for readers who love art, historical studies, paper, books, stories of invention, and a discussion on the frailty of human relationships. Gutenberg’s Apprentice is a close up, well-researched look at a little known bit of history with some artistic license taken by the author to fill in the gaps of what is known about the making of the Gutenberg Bible.