The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing

The book index: child of letters, tool of knowledge, weapon of deconstruction

The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing (2022), 40, (1), 3–15.


The humble book index has a long and distinguished history, intertwined not only with the development of alphabetical order and the codex, but also with the evolution of a new worldview based on rationalism rather than divine order - one in which reader is coequal with author in the freedom to analyse, synthesize and connect ideas. Drawing on the work of a number of scholars, Michele Combs traces this fascinating genealogy, showing that the index can be seen not only as an artifact and a reference tool but also as an explosive device.

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Author details

Combs, Michele