The Renaissance of Handwritten Letters


The Renaissance of Handwritten Letters

The Renaissance of Handwritten Letters

The Renaissance of Handwritten Letters a world of instant messaging and social media notifications it might seem that the handwritten letter is a relic of an era gone by. But there’s a quiet revival going on. International traditional pen pals are again sending letters that are embellished with stickers and diagrams, and a number of writing classes now teach “friendly” letters, which often outnumber the more formal “business” missives.

Until the advent of the printing press, handwriting was an intensely labor-intensive and specialized monastic discipline undertaken by transcribers ensconced in the scriptorium, cubiclelike rooms in which they painstakingly affixed page after page of parchment for months or even years at a time producing manuscript books. The scribe’s job was one of the most sacred of all monastic duties.

By the sixteenth century, however, an explosive growth in letter writing and a fundamental rethinking of epistolary practices had occurred throughout Europe. Several factors contributed to this development:

1) Economic forces intensified exchanges among increasingly global markets. This increased trade brought an increase in literate merchants who wrote business correspondence in vernacular languages rather than Latin. 2) Reverents, who dedicated themselves to cultural innovation based on their study of Greek and Roman antiquity, began to embrace classically styled letters as a signature genre.

3) The spread of the printing press enabled engravers to reproduce good letterforms on copper-plates. This meant that writing-masters could now focus on giving their pupils specific instructions about letter formation.

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