'The Letter and the Cosmos makes a positive contribution not only for specialists searching for an excellent sweeping over view, but general readers who want a fun read that they cannot put down and from which they will gain insights. Highly recommended.'- David B. Levy - Canadian Journal of History - vol 53:01:2018
'The Letter and the Cosmos is hugely stimulating to read... This is a wide ranging, consistently engaging work of synthetic scholarship from which no one will fail to come away enriched.'- Robert J. Mayhew - Journal of Historical Geography vol 58:2017
"This book's clear style and helpful illustrations make it engaging for specialists and non-specialists alike...[It] offers an insightful and valuable account of how the alphabet has been understood historically, from the Greeks to the present day, and in contrast to other writing systems."- David Watt, University of Manitoba - University of Toronto Quarterly, vol 87 3, Summer 2018
From our first ABCs to the Book of Revelation’s statement that Jesus is “the Alpha and Omega,” we see the world through our letters. More than just a way of writing, the alphabet is a powerful concept that has shaped Western civilization and our daily lives. In The Letter and the Cosmos, Laurence de Looze probes that influence, showing how the alphabet has served as a lens through which we conceptualize the world and how the world, and sometimes the whole cosmos, has been perceived as a kind of alphabet itself. Beginning with the ancient Greeks, he traces the use of alphabetic letters and their significance from Plato to postmodernism, offering a fascinating tour through Western history.
A sharp and entertaining examination of how languages, letterforms, orthography, and writing tools have reflected our hidden obsession with the alphabet, The Letter and the Cosmos is illustrated with copious examples of the visual and linguistic phenomena which de Looze describes. Read it, and you’ll never look at the alphabet the same way again.