The Russian Graphosphere: The Perspective of a British Scholar
This review examines The Russian Graphosphere, 1450–1850 (2020) by Simon Franklin, a well-known British specialist in Byzantine and mediaeval Russian history. The book is an authorised Russian translation; the original was published in English a year before. The book contains a reference guide to different types of Russian writing over a period of four hundred years, starting from the mid-fifteenth century. In the book, an overview is followed by a series of case studies on controversial issues dealing with the writing technology that was applied in a particular case. The author focuses his attention on the visual aspect of the writings, their functions, and their interaction as a set of visible words. Franklin considers the written sources a system of visually distinguishable signals and calls the system a graphosphere. The graphosphere is described in its dynamics and correlated with the development of society and culture. The reviewer regards the monograph as an outstanding academic work that opens new paths for future historical research. However, he also expresses regret that the history of the Russian graphosphere, which can be seen as a special phenomenon, is partly lost in the book against the background of identical processes that took place around Europe.
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