New PDF release: Commonplace Books and Reading in Georgian England

By David Allan

This pioneering exploration of Georgian males and women's studies as readers explores their use of general books for recording favorite passages and reflecting upon what they'd learn, revealing forgotten features in their complex courting with the published notice. It indicates how indebted English readers frequently remained to recommendations for dealing with, soaking up and puzzling over texts that have been rooted in classical antiquity, in Renaissance humanism and in a considerably oral tradition. It additionally finds how a sequence of comparable assumptions concerning the nature and goal of examining inspired the jobs that literature performed in English society within the a while of Addison, Johnson and Byron; how the conduct and approaches required through commonplacing affected readers' tastes and so assisted in shaping literary models; and the way the event of analyzing and responding to texts more and more inspired literate women and men to visualize themselves as participants of a well mannered, accountable and significantly conscious public.

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346; Curwen, History, p. 191. 10 Huntington:€BR 704. 11 Warwick:€Warwickshire County RO:€CR1998/LVBa; Maidstone:€U1776 Z16. 131. 13 Walpole:€‘The Effusions of Fancy and Fun Compiled by Joseph Gulston, 1784’. 14 15 Stafford:€D1057/0/4. 563. 9 What is a commonplace book? 16 Naming protocols for commonplace books, then, were delightfully inconsistent and not always particularly illuminating. Yet their visual appearance was, if anything, less uniform still. At one extreme lay so-called ‘commonplace books’ that were actually printed texts in their own right, a piratical usage hinting at a published work that sought to arrogate unto itself some of the essential practical functions ordinarily reserved for manuscript commonplacing.

After all, the label ‘commonplace book’ was no original coinage, newly minted in Augustan civilisation. And even before 1700, the same name had increasingly been assigned to a bewildering variety of different handwritten productions. 2 Modern archivists have, however, been equally guilty of inaccuracy€– and probably also of some wishful thinking. For all too frequently they have allowed manuscript notes to be catalogued as ‘commonplace books’, regardless of their connection with the serious business of reading.

Using surviving catalogues, they generated 65 66 Mackie, Market, p. 21. Whiston, Directions, p. 1. Rowland, Literature, p. ix; Houston, Literacy, p. 201. 71 Alternative methodologies have also emerged, however, which at least have the potential to sustain a more convincing analysis of the distinctive conditions in which long-dead readers’ experiences with books actually unfolded. 72 Yet whilst St Clair triumphantly answers the key questions that he poses, these remain decidedly economic in focus:€What was produced, at what cost and in how many copies and different editions?

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