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How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain

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How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain asks how our culture came to frown on using books for any purpose other than reading. When did the coffee-table book become an object of scorn? Why did law courts forbid witnesses to kiss the Bible? What made Victorian cartoonists mock commuters who hid behind the newspaper, ladies who matched their books' binding to their dress, and servants who reduced newspapers to fish 'n' chips wrap?

Shedding new light on novels by Thackeray, Dickens, the Brontës, Trollope, and Collins, as well as the urban sociology of Henry Mayhew, Leah Price also uncovers the lives and afterlives of anonymous religious tracts and household manuals. From knickknacks to wastepaper, books mattered to the Victorians in ways that cannot be explained by their printed content alone. And whether displayed, defaced, exchanged, or discarded, printed matter participated, and still participates, in a range of transactions that stretches far beyond reading.

Supplementing close readings with a sensitive reconstruction of how Victorians thought and felt about books, Price offers a new model for integrating literary theory with cultural history. How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain reshapes our understanding of the interplay between words and objects in the nineteenth century and beyond.

Synopsis:

"Beautifully written, this superb book gives us a magnificent study of the social lives of books and texts in the Victorian period: their uses as missiles, doorstops, food wrapping, spouse-ignoring devices, and vehicles for individuation, spiritual development, and childlike wonder and delight. A joy to read."--Elaine Freedgood, New York University

"This timely and witty book is more than a shrewd look at the social lives of book-objects and their users, and a reconstruction of the protocols organizing that use. It also provides, gloriously, a new interpretation of the Victorian novel."--Deidre Lynch, University of Toronto

"Price has written an exceptional book of literary history that stretches the boundaries of what literary history means and does. Making her argument through an astonishing range of evidence about the uses of books, paper, and printed material in the nineteenth century, she shows that reading is not the only thing to do with books, either as objects or as historical evidence. A remarkable work."--Nicholas Dames, Columbia University

Synopsis:

How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain asks how our culture came to frown on using books for any purpose other than reading. When did the coffee-table book become an object of scorn? Why did law courts forbid witnesses to kiss the Bible? What made Victorian cartoonists mock commuters who hid behind the newspaper, ladies who matched their books' binding to their dress, and servants who reduced newspapers to fish 'n' chips wrap?

Shedding new light on novels by Thackeray, Dickens, the Brontës, Trollope, and Collins, as well as the urban sociology of Henry Mayhew, Leah Price also uncovers the lives and afterlives of anonymous religious tracts and household manuals. From knickknacks to wastepaper, books mattered to the Victorians in ways that cannot be explained by their printed content alone. And whether displayed, defaced, exchanged, or discarded, printed matter participated, and still participates, in a range of transactions that stretches far beyond reading.

Supplementing close readings with a sensitive reconstruction of how Victorians thought and felt about books, Price offers a new model for integrating literary theory with cultural history. How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain reshapes our understanding of the interplay between words and objects in the nineteenth century and beyond.

About the Author

Leah Price is professor of English at Harvard University. She is the author of "The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel".

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Chapter One: Reader’s Block 19

Part I: Selfish Fictions

Chapter Two: Anthony Trollope and the Repellent Book 45

Chapter Three: David Copperfield and the Absorbent Book 72

Chapter Four: It-Narrative and the Book as Agent 107

Part II: Bookish Transactions

Chapter Five: The Book as Burden: Junk Mail and Religious Tracts 139

Chapter Six: The Book as Go-Between: Domestic Servants and Forced Reading 175

Chapter Seven: The Book as Waste: Henry Mayhew and the Fall of Paper Recycling 219

Conclusion 258

Notes 263

Works Cited 293

Index 327

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691114170
Author:
Price, Leah
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Subject:
English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
Subject:
British literature.
Subject:
Literature: Primary Works and Letters
Subject:
European History
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Publication Date:
20120431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
18 halftones. 2 line illus.
Pages:
360
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Literary History » British » 19th Century
History and Social Science » Literary History » United States » 18th and 19th Century
History and Social Science » World History » 1650 to Present
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Reference » Science Reference » Technology
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain Used Hardcover
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$21.00 In Stock
Product details 360 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691114170 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Beautifully written, this superb book gives us a magnificent study of the social lives of books and texts in the Victorian period: their uses as missiles, doorstops, food wrapping, spouse-ignoring devices, and vehicles for individuation, spiritual development, and childlike wonder and delight. A joy to read."--Elaine Freedgood, New York University

"This timely and witty book is more than a shrewd look at the social lives of book-objects and their users, and a reconstruction of the protocols organizing that use. It also provides, gloriously, a new interpretation of the Victorian novel."--Deidre Lynch, University of Toronto

"Price has written an exceptional book of literary history that stretches the boundaries of what literary history means and does. Making her argument through an astonishing range of evidence about the uses of books, paper, and printed material in the nineteenth century, she shows that reading is not the only thing to do with books, either as objects or as historical evidence. A remarkable work."--Nicholas Dames, Columbia University

"Synopsis" by , How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain asks how our culture came to frown on using books for any purpose other than reading. When did the coffee-table book become an object of scorn? Why did law courts forbid witnesses to kiss the Bible? What made Victorian cartoonists mock commuters who hid behind the newspaper, ladies who matched their books' binding to their dress, and servants who reduced newspapers to fish 'n' chips wrap?

Shedding new light on novels by Thackeray, Dickens, the Brontës, Trollope, and Collins, as well as the urban sociology of Henry Mayhew, Leah Price also uncovers the lives and afterlives of anonymous religious tracts and household manuals. From knickknacks to wastepaper, books mattered to the Victorians in ways that cannot be explained by their printed content alone. And whether displayed, defaced, exchanged, or discarded, printed matter participated, and still participates, in a range of transactions that stretches far beyond reading.

Supplementing close readings with a sensitive reconstruction of how Victorians thought and felt about books, Price offers a new model for integrating literary theory with cultural history. How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain reshapes our understanding of the interplay between words and objects in the nineteenth century and beyond.

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