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Index, A History of the


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About the Author

Dennis Duncan is a writer, translator, lecturer in English at University College London, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has published numerous academic books, including Book Parts and The Oulipo and Modern Thought, as well as translations of Michel Foucault, Boris Vian, and Alfred Jarry. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, and the London Review of Books, and recent articles have considered Mallarme and jugs, James Joyce and pornography, and the history of Times New Roman.


Fascinating * Financial Times *
Witty and wide-ranging...adventurous... as if academic research were as revved-up as a Formula One race -- Peter Conrad * Observer *
Masterful * Prospect *
Hilarious -- Sam Leith * UnHerd *
Exceptionally good ... I learned a huge amount from this wry, clever, diverting book * Scotsman *
I loved this book - the story of the index turns out to be a true adventure -- Susie Dent (on Twitter)
Charming ... Indexes are to books as menus are to meals: often the best bit * Economist *
Illuminating ... A seemingly niche and esoteric subject, the index becomes, in Duncan's hands, a minor miracle. Index, A History of the is not only about books, printing, and the necessity of consistent page-numbering ... but about the nature of reading and about how we understand, categorise, and engage with the world -- Kate Wiles * History Today *
What a surprise to discover that the plain and humble index has such an intricate and rollicking history! Dennis Duncan gives us a learned grand tour from ancient times to the almost present in the design and uses - and cunning abuses - of what is still the most sophisticated search tool ever devised. Instruction, passim! Entertainment, idem! -- David Bellos * author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear? *
Dennis Duncan has done a great service to all bibliophiles by writing this scholarly, witty and affectionate history. By rights "Books, love of" ought to have a page-long entry in the index. -- Lynne Truss * author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves *
Entrancing ... Seldom is a short book so wide-ranging or so original in its subject. Every page has things I didn't know, or hardly realised I knew from a lifetime of looking things up. I want to stop people at random and tell them new facts I've found out. Master the use of the index and you have access to all knowledge. -- Christopher de Hamel * author of Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts *
Packed with easy wit and erudition ... Dennis Duncan gives us not only a history of the index, but an essay on human folly ... Some indexes, says Duncan, are miniature narratives, while others are literary performances, and he provides glorious examples of both. Indexes can also be a form of mockery or satire, and they make excellent objects of disdain ... A terrifically rewarding and timely book * The Oldie *
Index, A History of the focuses on the ultimate paratext - the index, an ancient information organiser and search tool that is still invaluable in the age of social media ... Its possibilities fascinated writers including Lewis Carrol, JG Ballard and Vladamir Nabokov ... Duncan's brilliant work makes us realise that the back of the book can be as important as the front * The Lady *
Brilliant, fascinating...a binge-worthy book -- Greg Jenner
To me, a truly great history book is one that changes something in the way in which I see the world Dennis Duncan's Index, A History of the certainly achieved that. Who realised there was such a fascinating, funny and delightful history behind the humble index? -- Katja Hoyer * History Today - Books of the Year *
Index, A History of the manages to be both a work of immense erudition and perfect Sunday afternoon reading -- Joseph Hone * History Today - Books of the Year *

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