The Story of Writing is an excellent introduction
to the history of writing. Presented as a collection of short illustrated
articles, it is very well written. It is an attractive
book even for non-specialists.
Writing is perhaps humanitys greatest invention.
Without it there would be no history and no civilization as we know
it. How, when and where did writing evolve ? Do alphabets function better
than hieroglyphs ? Are we today, in the computer age, moving towards
a universal language of signs and symbols ?
The Story of Writing is the first book that aims to demystify writing
for the general reader. In a succinct and absorbing text, Andrew Robinson
explains the interconnection between sound, symbol and script, and goes
on to discuss each of the major writing systems, in turn, from cuneiform
and Egyptian and Mayan hieroglyphs to alphabet and the script of China
and Japan today. We learn about proto-writing, such as Ice
Age symbols, tallies and Amerindian pictographs. We also survey the
astonishing multiplicity of alphabet - not merely the Greek, Roman,
Hebrew, Arabic and Indian scripts but also the Cherokee alphabet
and the writing of runes.
Full coverage is given to the story of decipherment, and how the words
of past ages have been brought back to life through the efforts of Champollion,
Ventris and others. A provocative chapter devoted to as yet undeciphered
scripts sets the reader a challenge : can the code of the Indus script,
Cretan Linear A, the Phaistos disc or Easter Island ever be broken ?
Armchair decipherers who read this book will be well placed to make
discoveries that herald the next breakthrough.
A special feature of the book is the step-by-step graphic analysis of
the way each script works, with detailed illustrated examples. By the
end, even the complete novice will have gained a basic understanding
of the worlds major scripts. With its dynamic layout and authoritative
text, this is a book to read for pleasure and enlightenment, as well,
as an invaluable sourcebook on the worlds major writing systems.
How writing works
1. Reading the Rosetta stone
2. Sound, symbol and script
II. Extinct writing
5. Egyptian hieroglyphs
6. Linear B
7. Mayan glyphs
8. Undeciphered scripts
III. Living writing
9. The first alphabet
10. New alphabets from old
11. Chinese writing
12. Japanese writing
13. From hieroglyphs to alphabet and back
The Story of Writing