chapter  13
14 Pages

This one poore blacke gowne lined with white': The Clothing of the Sixteenth-Century English Book

Metaphors of clothing and nakedness, of books as dressed and undressed bodies, occur time and again in the dedicatory and prefatory materials of the early modern printed book. Books are described as well-or poorly-clad figures, or, alternatively, are fantasised as items of clothing, patched together to form garments. Thus, Edward Hoby, as he describes his own inadequate translation, imagines his book as a rustic yokel stripped of its foreign elegance and dressed instead in a the 'clownish guise' of a ragged vernacular,1 while in Thomas Nashe's Pierce Penilesse his supplication to the Diuell, the grotesque figure of Greedinesse is clothed in a 'capouch' of written parchment, and his wife, Dame Niggardize, sports 'an apron made of Almanackes out of date (such as stand upon Screens, or on the backside of a dore in a Chandlers shop)'.2 This essay draws upon recent work in the rapidly growing discipline of book history to explore the implications of these insistent tropes - the clothed book, and the book as clothing - both as literal descriptions of the material text, and as ways of conceiving a variety of modes of reading and textual ownership.3 Central to my argument is the idea, propounded most

A4v. 2 Thomas Nashe (1593), Pierce Penilesse his supplication to the Diuell, London: Abell

Jeffes, for I. B., Sig. Av. 3 For a recent survey of the current state of the field of book history see Cyndia Susan Clegg

(2001), 'History of the Book: An Undisciplined Discipline?', Renaissance Quarterly, 54, 221-45. A range of texts is collected in David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery eds (2002),

vigorously by George Lakoff, that we must take metaphor seriously as a way not only of describing but of shaping the world around us.4