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Not Reading in Early Modern England

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We think of skimming, scanning, and study aids as the particular intellectual malaise of the internet age, but early modern commentators also worried that tools to faciliate discontinuous reading might enable unacceptable laziness and failures of readerly attention. John Milton complained in 1644 of clergymen who composed sermons with the “infinit helps of interlinearies, breviaries, synopses, and other loitering gear.” Cribs and commonplace books, wrote John Selden in 1618, are "excellent instruments for the advancement of Ignorance and Lazinesse." Others were concerned that people... Read more