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Hardcover | Out of Print | 472 pp. | 6 x 9 in | November 1996 | ISBN: 9780942299359
Paperback | Out of Print | 472 pp. | 6 x 9 in | September 1998 | ISBN: 9780942299366
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The Culture of the Copy

Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles


The Culture of the Copy is an unprecedented attempt to make sense of our Western fascination with replicas, duplicates, and twins. In a work that is breathtaking in both its synthetic and critical achievements, Hillel Schwartz charts the repercussions of our entanglement with copies of all kinds, whose presence alternately sustains and overwhelms us.

Through intriguing, and at times humorous, historical analysis and case studies in contemporary culture, Schwartz investigates most varieties of simulacra, including counterfeits, decoys, mannequins, ditto marks, portraits, genetic cloning, war games, camouflage, instant replays, digital imaging, parrots, photocopies, wax museums, apes, art forgeries, not to mention the very notion of the Real McCoy.

At the same time Schwartz works through a range of modernist, feminist, and postmodern theories about copies and mechanical reproduction, posing the following compelling question: How is it that the ethical dilemmas at the heart of so many fields of endeavor have become inseparable from our pursuit of copies—of the natural world, or our own creations, indeed our very selves?

The Culture of the Copy is a stunning, innovative blend of microsociology, cultural history, and philosophical reflection that will fascinate anyone concerned with problems of authenticity, identity, and originality.

About the Author

Hillel Schwartz is the author of Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond.


“If God is in the details, then this book is surely divine or, at least, demonic. Siamese twins and doppelgängers, parrots andapes, decoys and mannequins, robots and clones, impostors and pretenders are but a few of the stops on this dizzying and dazzling tour de force of every conceivable trompe l'oeil.”
Francis Kane, New York Times Book Review