Catch-words

Nicholas D. Nace

Between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, the assembly of printed sheets into ordered books had a textual aid: a few letters printed in the bottom-right margin of each page that anticipated the first word at the top of the following page.

A quick glance could confirm that the ‘catch-word’ matched the start of the next page’s text, and therefore that the sequencing and pagination were correct.

This book gathers the catch-words in the first edition of Samuel Richardson’s landmark novel Clarrisa, or, the history of a Young Lady (1748). Their new arrangement follows the structure of its source: each catch-word becomes a line, each gathering a stanza, each volume a canto. The process repeats in the manner of a musical catch until, finally, all 883,716 of Richardson’s words are gone.

Features the 8 page supplement, Directions for Reading.

Nicholas D. Nace has previously taught at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and SUNY Binghamton. He teaches a wide range of courses in British and American literature and publishes on seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century British literature, often in relation to trends in contemporary poetics. He is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Rhetoric at Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia, United States. Nace has published writings in various journals such as The Burlington Magazine, The Book Collector, and The Scriblerian.

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