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Martin Puchner’s ‘The Written World’

Author Reveals How Literature Transformed Our Planet


In The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization, Martin Puchner sets out to tell how literature transformed our planet into a written world. This ambitious undertaking led Puchner from Greece to the area once known as Mesopotamia, Latin America, and Asia. Examining nearly 4,000 years of world literature, Puchner explains how certain texts become what he refers to as “foundational” tomes, defined by their power to “change the way we see the world and also the way we act upon it.” The Bible and the Koran occupy this category, as do The Communist Manifesto and the Declaration of Independence. From the creation of the alphabet and paper to the electronic writing and printing of today, Puchner unfolds a mesmerizing story. For those whose refuge is the word — on-screen, on paper, or chiseled in ancient stone — and for those who appreciate a tale well told, The Written World is a book you will want to read from cover to cover.

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