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Martin Puchner

The Written World: How Literature Shaped History

Hay Festival 2019 , 

From clay tablets to the printing press; from the pencil to the internet; from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Harry Potter, this is the true story of literature – of how great texts and technologies have shaped cultures and civilisations and altered human history. Less well known is the influence of Greek generals, Japanese court ladies, Spanish adventurers, Malian singers and American astronauts, and yet all of them played a crucial role in shaping and spreading literature as we know it today. The Harvard professor tells the captivating story of the development of literature. Central to the development of religions, political movements and even nations, texts spread useful truths and frightening disinformation, and have the power to change lives. Chaired by Daniel Hahn.