Books, Readers, Printers

Good Books and Bad Books

The censorship drive of the Counter-Reformation went beyond the battle against heresy, Protestantism and Lutheran books, since its scope included fiction, books of entertainment, lyrical works and forms of popular piety.

It transformed the publishing industry, the layout of libraries, the organization of professions and trades associated with book publishing, and even the perception of writing and reading as potentially risky activities. The bad books included in the indexes of prohibited books, if not submitted for expurgation, ceased to be published within the area of jurisdiction of each index, ceased to be read, quoted or publicly displayed. How many of these bad books were there and which were they? In the first fifty years of their existence—between the 1544 index of the University of Paris and the Clementine index of 1596—the European indexes affected some 6311 editions published by 1354 printers in 193 cities. The number of authors with at least one banned work was around 2000, and the number of anonymous ones exceeded a thousand. This line of research offers case studies of books that were prohibited, seeks to recover some of the printed texts that were lost or survived as single copies, to identify and analyse punished editions, and to study the anti- or counter-canonical textual heritage constituted by early modern texts affected by prohibition.

Line of research team