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Mahling, Lubina: The Bible, Treatises, and Manuscripts The Sorbian Reading World in the 18th Century. Readers and Reading...

mersiowsky - 12-26-2018 at 10:46 AM

Lětopis Abstract 2019 1: Mahling, Lubina: The Bible, Treatises, and Manuscripts The Sorbian Reading World in the 18th Century. Readers and Reading as Reflected in the Records of Herrnhut

A large number of Sorbian Protestants were influenced by Pietism in the 18th Century, above all the Herrnhut Community of Brethren. This community emphasized the importance of reading among its members and supporters and as a result contributed substantially to the spread of literacy among the Sorbian population. Personal accounts, reports, and letters from the archives of the community provide a unique insight into the reading experiences, reading behavior and habits of the Sorbian population in the 18th Century.

At the same time it becomes clear that, together with books, numerous manuscripts were circulated in the Sorbian Diaspora, of which only a few have survived. These were translated, copied and reproduced in Kleinwelka, the central place for work in the Sorbian Diaspora. It was often decided for a number of different reasons not to print this work. As is shown in this study, the distribution in hand-written form of these manuscripts in no way meant that they were not publicly accessible. The manuscripts also reached a large audience purely through being read out and distributed in the societies. This study argues for a re-evaluation of Sorbian manuscripts in the light of this background. It is not necessarily the case that they have to be seen in every case as having an inferior status through not being printed, but should be seen in their own right as a form of publication.