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In the Vineyard of the Text

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With Augustine as his principal authority, and drawing on a range of classical and medieval writers, Hugh of Saint Victor wrote his magnum opus, Didascalicon, (On the Study of Reading) as an introduction to rhetoric, philosophy and Christian exegesis as taught at the "Parisian Schools" in the 12th-Century. Illich's In the Vineyard of the Text is a study of the earlier work with an emphasis on the what it reveals about the history of the book and reading, in particular the revolution bought about by the transition of reading from being a vocal and communal activity (clare legere) to one practiced alone and in silence that had been the norm since antiquity. Illich also argues that reading and studying are synonymous with a spiritual lifestyle (not exclusively Christian). He explores how a meditative state of mind is conducive to world peace and harmony, and how this can come about if we listen to those who follow a ‘bookish’ lifestyle.

Published: Sep 1, 1993

Book Contributors

Section Chapter Authors
Introduction Ivan Illich
Chapter 1
Reading toward Wisdom Ivan Illich
Chapter 2
Order, Memory, and History Ivan Illich
Chapter 3
Monastic Reading Ivan Illich
Chapter 4
Lectio in Latin Ivan Illich
Chapter 5
Scholastic Reading Ivan Illich
Chapter 6
From Recorded Speech to the Record of Thought Ivan Illich
Chapter 7
From Book to Text Ivan Illich


Illich has rendered a great service in presenting Hugh of Saint Victor's magnum opus, Didascalicon, to a new generation of scholars and simultaneously to a broad lay public. Illich proves himself to be a formidable medievalist.
Library Quarterly