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Recent and Current Writing Projects

You hardly need another essay devoted to the changes wrought in publishing by electronic communications; nor do you need my predictions concerning probable future developments.   However, I will risk an analogy.  As a medievalist and an amateur of printing history, I see some important parallels with an earlier period of dramatic technological change, that of the incunable period (1450-1500) during which the new technology of printing with movable type was in competition with the older manuscript culture.  We all know who “won.”  In terms of commerce, mechanical reproduction won.  Yet no machine-made book could or can achieve what a hand-made book could.  I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the illustrated manuscripts of the Roman de la Rose.  A number of the finest illuminated copies date from the latter years of the fifteenth century.  One spectacular exemplar was made as late as the sixteenth century.   By then several printed editions were available; but the true connoisseur wanted a hand-made book.  Computer screen and Kindle pixels, like the movable types of Gutenberg, are offering a convenience undreamed of in previous centuries; but they are not offering us beautiful objects to hold, touch, and lovingly store on our library shelves.  The printed book is not about to go away.  In fact the hand-printed book—the letterpress productions of the small presses—is growing in prestige, and now has something of the cachet enjoyed by the “obsolete” vellum manuscript in the sixteenth century.

This section of the blog will provide general information about some of my recent or current writing forthcoming in the species of paper and ink as well as, from time to time, new offerings in electronic form.  I begin with my second most recent book and then to three essays in the process of publication—a process that can at times seem very slow indeed. You may wish to regard these blurbs as the annoying previews you must sometimes suffer through at the movies.

The Anti-Communist Manifestos
One of the fascinating questions of twentieth century history is how Russia was transformed, in the perception of America and western Europe, from an ally in World War II into the arch-enemy of the Cold War... read more

Lewis as Critic & Scholar
[an essay of 5000 words for a projected Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis]
The Cambridge Companions to practically everything must be one of the most successful series sponsored by any university press. They are works of haute vulgarization... read more

Louis Fischer Leaves Moscow
[an essay of about 7000 words for the Princeton University Library Chronicle]
Fischer’s literary production was stupendous—upwards of a hundred books and pamphlets, and what must be literally thousands of essays and articles. So far as I have been able to discern from a study of the archive, he spent most of his time somewhat unequally distributed between two postures: seated with a typewriter and horizontal with a female other than his wife [not shown].

Sir Lancelot Thumbs a Ride
An old joke asks “What is the most important thing about a chevalier?” Answer:...