Tuesday, December 08, 2015

What is Andrew Pettegree reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Andrew Pettegree, author of Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe--and Started the Protestant Reformation.

His entry begins:
City of Wisdom and Blood by Robert Merle

Even though so many of the world’s people now speak English, it is a happy fact that Anglophone readers have access to an even increasing range of non-English literature. The astonishing success of Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin, or the Suite Française of Irène Némirovsky's, has emboldened publishers to seek out other unknown gems: and never more productively than with the decision of the Pushkin Press to take on Robert Merle’s extraordinary sage of the French Wars of Religion, Fortune de France. This project originated as a labour of love of its translator, Jefferson Kline, Professor of French at Boston University. Kline recognised the extraordinary beauty of Merle’s creation, a chronicle of French society in war and peace, seen through the eyes of its swashbuckling young hero, Pierre de Siorac. The son of a minor noble in the south of France, Pierre follows his father into...[read on]
About Brand Luther, from the publisher:
A revolutionary look at Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the birth of publishing, on the eve of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary

When Martin Luther posted his “theses” on the door of the Wittenberg church in 1517, protesting corrupt practices, he was virtually unknown. Within months, his ideas spread across Germany, then all of Europe; within years, their author was not just famous, but infamous, responsible for catalyzing the violent wave of religious reform that would come to be known as the Protestant Reformation and engulfing Europe in decades of bloody war.

Luther came of age with the printing press, and the path to glory of neither one was obvious to the casual observer of the time. Printing was, and is, a risky business—the questions were how to know how much to print and how to get there before the competition. Pettegree illustrates Luther’s great gifts not simply as a theologian, but as a communicator, indeed, as the world’s first mass-media figure, its first brand. He recognized in printing the power of pamphlets, written in the colloquial German of everyday people, to win the battle of ideas.

But that wasn’t enough—not just words, but the medium itself was the message. Fatefully, Luther had a partner in the form of artist and businessman Lucas Cranach, who together with Wittenberg’s printers created the distinctive look of Luther’s pamphlets. Together, Luther and Cranach created a product that spread like wildfire—it was both incredibly successful and widely imitated. Soon Germany was overwhelmed by a blizzard of pamphlets, with Wittenberg at its heart; the Reformation itself would blaze on for more than a hundred years.

Publishing in advance of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, Brand Luther fuses the history of religion, of printing, and of capitalism—the literal marketplace of ideas—into one enthralling story, revolutionizing our understanding of one of the pivotal figures and eras in human history.
Learn more about Brand Luther at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Book in the Renaissance.

The Page 99 Test: The Invention of News.

The Page 99 Test: Brand Luther.

Writers Read: Andrew Pettegree.

--Marshal Zeringue