The Book Club

    Judith Flanders: A Place For Everything

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    In this episode

    Sam Leith

    My guest in this week’s books podcast is the historian Judith Flanders, whose A Place For Everything tells the story of a vital but little considered part of intellectual history: alphabetical order. Judith tells me how this innovation both reflected and enabled the movement from oral to written culture, from a dogmatic to a secular worldview, and made possible the modern administrative state. And we touch on, among other things, prototypes of the Post-It note, the contribution of the French Revolution to indexing, the bizarre British Library shelfmark for Gawain and the Green Knight, and why Dewey, of decimal fame, was an utter rotter.