During the Renaissance nothing changed very much. This is a book about nothing in the Renaissance.
Nothing can only be seen obliquely: nothing can never be present, it must always be re-presented, so it is representations of nothing that must be examined. The representations studied in this book range from the most recognizable form, the zero or O, to less obvious representational lacunae such as alchemy, counterfeiting, minting, accounting, cryptography, printing, authority, and Petrarchism. With sources ranging from Titan paintings to math primers, The Story of O shows that charting what it means to represent nothing is identical to charting what it means to represent. Likewise, asking what it means to be nothing is the same as asking what it means to be at all. Investigating changes in the representation of nothing inevitably reveals changes in the status and nature of everything; new modes of representing nothing and making it apprehensible throw into question old modes of representing, knowing and being any thing.
The changes ushered in by new modes of representing and understanding nothing during the sixteenth century played a crucial role in creating the value and meaning systems upon which we currently rely. Indeed, nothing is the basis of our modern economy and language.
Rethinking the very basis of the Renaissance, The Story of O will be compelling reading for anyone interested in the Renaissance, information technology, cultural studies, comparative literature, or the histories of art, books, mathematics, and money.