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The history of reading dates to the invention of writing during the 4th
millennium BC. Although reading print text is now an important way for the general
population to access information, this has not always been the case. With some
exceptions, only a small percentage of the population in many countries was
considered literate before the Industrial Revolution. Some of the pre-modern societies
with generally high literacy rates included classical Athens and the Islamic Caliphate.
Scholars assume that reading aloud (Latin clare legere) was the more common
practice in antiquity, and that reading silently (legere tacite or legere sibyl) was unusual.
In his Confessions, Saint Augustine remarks on Saint Ambrose’s unusual habit of
reading silently in the 4th century AD.
During the Age of Enlightenment, elite individuals promoted passive reading,
rather than creative interpretation. Reading has no concrete laws, but let’s readers
escape to produce their own products introspectively, promoting deep exploration of
texts during interpretation. Some thinkers of that era believed that construction or the
creation of writing and producing a product, was a sign of initiative and active
participation in society-and viewed constructors made. Also, during this era, writing
was considered superior to reading in society. They considered readers of that time
passive citizens because they did not produce a product. Michel de certeau argued that
the elites of the Age of Enlightenment were responsible for this general belief. Michel
de Certeau believed that reading required venturing into an author’s land but taking
away what the reader wanted specifically. This view held that writing was a superior
art to reading within the hierarchical constraints of the era.
In 18th-century Europe, the then new practice of reading alone in bed was, for
a time, considered dangerous and immoral. As reading became less a communal, oral
practice, and more a private, silent one-and as sleeping increasingly moved from
communal sleeping areas to individual bedrooms, some raised concern that reading in
bed presented various dangers, such as fires caused by bedside candles. Some modern
critics, however, speculate that these concerns were based on the fear that readersespecially women-could escape familial and communal obligations and transgress
moral boundaries through the private fantasy worlds in books. (Lambert, n.d.)

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