is the expression of friendly connection or thank by the author towards another person. The dedication has its own place on the dedication page
and is part of the front matter.
Position and function of the dedication
In newer books, the dedication is located on a dedication page
on its own, usually on the recto page after the main title page
The title page of a book, thesis or other written work is the page at or near the front which displays its title and author, usually together with information relating to the publication of the book...
inside the front matter. It can occupy one or multiple lines depending on its importance. It can also be ‘in a longer version as a dedication letter or dedication preface at the book's beginning’. Nowadays, the dedication's function is mainly part of the self-portrayal of the author in front of his or her readers.
Evidence of dedications is provided back into the Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...
. Besides the wish to express their gratitude towards a certain person, the authors often had also other reasons to dedicate their work to a particular person. Well into the 18th century, it was not usual for publishers to remunerate the authors; authors tended to be paid or renumerated as one element of a patron-client relationship, in which the author-client paid tribute, in the dedication, to his or her patron. A typical writer dedicated ‘their book to a high standing personality -- to Fürst
Fürst is a German title of nobility, usually translated into English as Prince.The term refers to the head of a principality and is distinguished from the son of a monarch, who is referred to as Prinz...
s or bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...
s -- or to a city and tried to gain some money through this practice’.
In many cases the petitioner was lucky and received a gift from the patron. In some cases, the writer groveled before the patron and a formal dedication "contained often a very elaborate and submissive affection". In some cases not only the authors tried to get some money, but also the printers tried through dedications to cover a part of their costs.
The dedication is not to be confounded with the handwritten dedication of a single copy: the presentation copy
A presentation copy is a copy of a book that has been dedicated by the author or illustrated and signed in some way to that effect. Presentation copies with a demonstrated relationship between the presenter and the recipient are generally more valuable than those merely signed chockablock by a...
A prologue is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information. The Greek prologos included the modern meaning of prologue, but was of wider significance...
Paratext is a concept in literary interpretation. The main text of published authors is often surrounded by other material supplied by editors, printers, and publishers, which is known as the paratext. These added elements form a frame for the main text, and can change the reception of a text or...
, Front matter, Homage
Homage is a show or demonstration of respect or dedication to someone or something, sometimes by simple declaration but often by some more oblique reference, artistic or poetic....
- Jost Hochuli: Buchgestaltung in der Schweiz. 2. Auflage. Pro Helvetia, Schweizer Kulturstiftung. Zürich 1998. ISBN 3-908102-10-3 (German)
- Reclams Sachlexikon des Buches. Hrsg. von U. Rautenberg. Reclam Verlag, Stuttgart 2003. ISBN 3-15-010542-0(German)
- Diana Stört: Form- und Funktionswandel der Widmung. Zur historischen Entwicklung und Typologisierung eines Paratextes. In: "Aus meiner Hand dies Buch." Zum Phänomen der Widmung. Hrsg. von Volker Kaukoreit, Marcel Atze und Michael Hansel. Wien: Turia + Kant 2007 (= Sichtungen. Archiv, Bibliothek, Literaturwissenschaft 8./9. Jg., 2005/2006), S. 79-112. ISBN 3-85132-476-5 (German)