Saturday, July 29, 2006

Reading with the eye

James Fenton sets the record straight: despite the scene in the Confessions in which Augustine expresses surprise at Bishop Ambrose's habit of reading silently to himself, it is a (very widespread) "myth that the ancients only or normally read out loud." Makes sense to me--there's no doubt it's a very striking scene, but as an extremely avid silent reader myself I always found the claim unlikely, it seemed to me just not cognitively plausible even given, you know, the whole no-spaces-between-the-words thing. There's an interesting though rather technical book on this topic, Paul Saenger's Space Between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading.

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