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‘But to whose charge shall I lay it? Your Printer is all readie loaden’ – The Rhetoric of Printers’ Errors in Early Modern Religious Disputes

posted on 2023-09-01, 14:45 authored by Matthew Day
Although modern scholarship has increasingly turned its attention to errata sheets, there has been little study of the way that the idea of printers’ errors was used in texts of religious disputes. The humanist training, combined with the understanding of the processes of print production that many of those involved in such confrontations had, meant that they were alive to the problem of textual errors. Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, religious controversialists of all persuasions used the presence of textual errors to challenge opponents and find fault with their learning, scholarship, attentiveness and integrity. Those attacked deployed the idea to blame printers or dismissed attention to their errors as petulant. Among early-modern scholars, therefore, a discourse of printers’ errors emerged, which could be used to gain rhetorical advantage. Ironically, despite the religious context of these debates, authors showed remarkably little sense of Christian charity in their attempts to gain the upper hand.



  • Yes


Oxford University Press

Place of publication

Oxford, UK

Title of book

Printing and Misprinting: A Companion to Typos and Corrections in Renaissance Europe (1450-1650)


Geri Della Rocca de Candal, Anthony Grafton, Paolo Sachet

File version

  • Accepted version


  • eng

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Legacy Faculty/School/Department

Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

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