During recent decades much has been written about early modern book distribution, but until now Norway has been absent from the discussion. Drawing on book listings, this study seeks to fill this lacuna by exploring the market for books in early modern Norway. Its approach is multifaceted: consideration of the types of books accessed by different elements of Norwegian society is set alongside developments within the book market itself, such as the extended life of popular books, the gradual replacement of Latin by the vernacular and the rise in the eighteenth century in the number of books available on the market. The study demonstrates the internationality of the Norwegian book market while acknowledging specific patterns that determine its Norwegian character.
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Biographical Note

Gina Dahl, Dr. Art. (2007) in History of religion, University of Bergen, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Bergen. She has published extensively on book distribution in early modern Norway including Book Collections of Clerics in Norway, 1650–1750 (Brill, 2010).

Review Quote

“As a first general and comprehensive survey of what types of books were distributed and circulated in Norway in the early modern period, this book is a highly welcome research contribution to the scarcely covered field of book history in Norway and serves as a gateway into the vast topics within a research field that has yet to be studied in a Norwegian context. Internationally, it provides scholars with material for comparison, while on a national level it must be considered as a reference work.”
Ane Ohrvik, University of Oslo. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 2 (Summer 2013) , pp. 707-709.

Table of contents

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Chapter 2 –Books and Their Distribution
2.1 Historical background
2.2 Book market regulations
2.3 Sales outlets

Chapter 3 – Books of Ordinary People
3.1 Schooling and reading
3.2 Inventories in rural areas
3.3 Books in stock in urban areas
3.4 Changes in book patterns in the late eighteenth century

Chapter 4 – Books of the Clergy
4.1 Clerical education
4.2 Books originating in Germany
4.3 Books from the Netherlands and England
4.4 Changes towards the end of the eighteenth century

Chapter 5 – Books and the Liberal Arts
5.1 The artes training
5.2 The artes reception
5.3 The variety of the classical legacy

Chapter 6 – Books on Medicine
6.1. Physicians and their educational background
6.2 The books of university-trained physicians
6.3 Medical works among other sections of society

Chapter 7 – Books on Jurisprudence
7.1 Jurists and their educational background
7.2 Books on jurisprudence circulating among the various officials
7.3 Books on jurisprudence owned by other sections of society

Chapter 8 – Enlightenment and Expansion
8.1 Enlightenment and change
8.2 The Norwegian case: structural changes in the world of books
8.3 Literary genres and ‘other worlds’

Chapter 9 – Books for Entertainment
9.1 Tales, stories and novels
9.2 Travel literature
9.3 Esoteric literature

Chapter 10 – Conclusion

Appendix 1


All those interested in early modern book history and the distribution of religious, medical, jurdical and entertaining literature. Also relevant for all those interested in intellectual history as such.


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