Common As Air

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Product Details
$23.00  $21.39
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.9 inches | 0.9 pounds

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About the Author

Lewis Hyde is the author of The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property and Trickster Makes This World (FSG, 1998). A MacArthur Fellow and former director of creative writing at Harvard, he is currently Luce Professor of Art and Politics at Kenyon College.


"Lewis Hyde has written a stunning book. Drawing from science, law, and art, and looking deep into the intentions of the founding fathers, Common as Air is essential reading, no matter where you stand in the ongoing debate about the ownership of art and ideas." --Anna Deavere Smith

"Lewis Hyde's Common As Air [is] an eloquent and erudite plea for protecting our cultural patrimony from appropriation by commercial interests . . . Hyde builds his argument by telling stories, and he tells them well. His book brims with vignettes, which may be familiar but complement one another in ways that produce original insights. Instead, he tells stories with a moral. If we reassessed our history, he teaches, we would reassert our citizenship in a Republic of Letters that was crucial to the creation of the American Republic--and that is more important than ever in the age of the Internet." --Robert Darnton, The New York Times Book Review

"Lewis Hyde, MacArthur Fellow and professor at Kenyon and Harvard, offers a brilliant and absorbing account of the development of restrictive and enduring private ownership of shared experience . . . His argumentation is dazzling, dense with lucid ideas, erudition, wry humor . . . Like his elegant 1983 underground bestseller, The Gift, about social codes of giving and accepting, Common as Air will surely inspire thoughtful responses for even longer than its own copyright endures." --Matt Kramer, Star-Tribune

"Drawing on deep historical research, Common As Air discusses the reasons why Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and their peers were wary of perpetual patents and copyrights. The Founders viewed them as state-sanctioned monopolies that deterred the progress of learning, creativity, and innovation. This is the reason why they carved out room in the U.S. Constitution for intellectual property, the first country to do so." --Kembrew McLeod, The Atlantic

"In [Common As Air], Hyde discusses the property we once held in common--from land to books to certain kinds of scientific discoveries--and demonstrates how this arena has steadily eroded." --Bill Eichenberger, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"Deeply researched and powerfully felt, this book presents a compelling case for an alternate paradigm, and showcases the originality that readers cherished in The Gift." --Brendan Driscoll, Booklist