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pamphlet

pamphlet

[pam-flit]
pamphlet, short unbound or paper-bound book of from 64 to 96 pages. The pamphlet gained popularity as an instrument of religious or political controversy, giving the author and reader full benefit of freedom of the press. Relatively inexpensive to purchaser and publisher, it is less complicated to publish and therefore can be more timely than a hard-cover book. Several examples of this generally ephemeral literary form have proved to have permanent value (e.g., works by John Milton and Thomas Paine), and have been reprinted separately or in collections, such as the Harleian Miscellany (1744-46). See also chapbook.

Unbound printed publication with a paper cover or no cover. Among the first printed materials, pamphlets were widely used in England, France, and Germany from the early 16th century, often for religious or political propaganda; they sometimes rose to the level of literature or philosophical discourse. In North America, pre-Revolutionary War agitation stimulated extensive pamphleteering; foremost among the writers of political pamphlets was Thomas Paine. By the 20th century, the pamphlet was more often used for information than for controversy.

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