Synopses & Reviews
The first half of the nineteenth century witnessed an extraordinary transformation in British political, literary, and intellectual life. There was widespread social unrest, and debates raged regarding education, the lives of the working class, and the new industrial, machine-governed world. At the same time, modern science emerged in Europe in more or less its current form, as new disciplines and revolutionary concepts, including evolution and the vastness of geologic time, began to take shape.and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;
In Visions of Science, James A. Secord offers a new way to capture this unique moment of change. He explores seven key booksand#151;among them Charles Babbageand#8217;s Reflections on the Decline of Science, Charles Lyelland#8217;s Principles ofGeology, Mary Somervilleand#8217;s Connexion of the Physical Sciences, and Thomas Carlyleand#8217;s Sartor Resartusand#151;and shows how literature that reflects on the wider meaning of science can be revelatory when granted the kind of close reading usually reserved for fiction and poetry. These books considered the meanings of science and its place in modern life, looking to the future, coordinating and connecting the sciences, and forging knowledge that would be appropriate for the new age. Their aim was often philosophical, but Secord shows it was just as often imaginative, projective, and practical: to suggest not only how to think about the natural world but also to indicate modes of action and potential consequences in an era of unparalleled change. and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;
Visions of Science opens our eyes to how genteel ladies, working men, and the literary elite responded to these remarkable works. It reveals the importance of understanding the physical qualities of books and the key role of printers and publishers, from factories pouring out cheap compendia to fashionable publishing houses in Londonand#8217;s West End. Secordand#8217;s vivid account takes us to the heart of an information revolution that was to have profound consequences for the making of the modern world.
and#8220;Visions of Science is a wonderfully lucid account of a complex and often misunderstood era that poses important questions about the way we understand both science and history.and#8221;
and#8220;Elegantly written, Secordand#8217;s Visions of Science provides its readers with fresh insights into the turbulent decade around 1830, when science was changing from a and#8216;relatively esoteric pursuitand#8217; into one that would have a huge impact on and#8216;the everyday life of all men and women.and#8217;and#8221;
and#8220;One of the hardest things for historians is to know how books were actually read when they were first published. A book may have a clear case to make, but did contemporary readers find it credible? Perhaps the ideas that seem important to us now were not those that caught readersand#8217; imaginations, indignations or approval at the time of publication. Secord succeeds brilliantly in tackling this challenge. Through a combination of facts about the publishing industry and contemporary reviews, he demonstrates how, and to what extent, these books were influential. They did nothing less, as he writes, than and#8216;fire the imagination of a generation that believed science was on the verge of transforming the human condition.and#8217;and#8221;
"This book will appeal not only to historians, but to literary scholars keen to move beyond the familiar canon of poetry and prose. And for many other readers, the book will be a fascinating introduction to the first generation to believe that the modern disciplinary sciences could transform the human condition."
"An accomplished overview of early Victorian science and culture."
andldquo;The originality of the bookandrsquo;s focus lies in its attention to the whole process of publishing, from the writerandrsquo;s original notebooks through to the end product and its marketing. It moves from the facts of travel and geographical exploration to consider how the accounts of these travels appeared in printandmdash;a journey that turns out to have been rich in complications. This kind of attention is made possible by the uniquely full records that survive in the John Murray Archive. In this sense, the book is a case study; but the issues raised are so wide-ranging that it turns itself into a much more ambitious analysis. Each of the three authors has clearly brought different strengths to the project, broadening and deepening the bookandrsquo;s range. But they have worked together so effectively that the book reads as if it had been written by a single
andldquo;No one did more to transform travel writing into one of the nineteenth centuryandrsquo;s most popular genres than the publishing firm of John Murray, and no one has done more to reveal the significance of that project than the authors of this important new book.and#160; Making meticulous use of the Murray archives, Keighren, Withers, and Bell have written a rich and penetrating account of how, as they put it, andlsquo;the world was put into words.andrsquo;and#160; Their study offers fresh insights into the premises and practices of travel and exploration, the struggle to give credibility to travelersandrsquo; tales, the highly mediated process by which travelers became authors, the social and economic forces that shaped print culture, and much more, making it a work that scholars in a range of disciplines will want to read.andrdquo;
andldquo;Travels into Print offers an original and nuanced approach to book history that exposes the rich interdisciplinary nature of the field. While the work claims neither to be a house history nor an exhaustive exploration of the Murray Archive, its three authors interweave perspectives from historical geography, history of science, art history, material culture, and literary studies to examine travel, topography, and the book trade. In the process, they demonstrate the complex technical, intellectual, political, cultural, and moral negotiations and interventions that bring printed works into the public sphere. Written in a highly engaging, accessible style, Travels into Print gives a fascinating glimpse into the multivariate worlds of travel and exploration narratives and how they have been fashioned in and out of the imaginations of authors, publishers, and their audiences.andrdquo;
andquot;Weaves together strands from the history of science, literary criticism, and book history, in a work which is highly accessible but which does not compromise on academic rigour. By focusing on select but significant texts, Visions of Science achieves an expansive view of early nineteenth-century print culture through a series of acute and suggestive readings.andquot;
andquot;Secord highlights seven powerful books from the 1830s that altered their age. . . . Taken together, the books Mr. Secord features tell a fascinating story.andquot;
andldquo;Opens up a world of travel writing. The link between a world-leading publisher and two centuries of exploration is . . . celebrated.andrdquo;
andquot;Both deeply enlightening and a pleasure to read. . . . A fascinating exploration of books and their readers during a moment of intense transformation in British society. Secord brings us into a period of the nineteenth century when transformations in publishing and an expanded reading public helped create a wide-ranging conversation about science and its possible futures.andquot;
andquot;A concise and engaging survey of the popular science literature that transformed the book trade during the 1930s.andquot;
andquot;A remarkable achievement. . . . Visions of Science shows how the history of science can profit from conversation with the history of the book. It should be read by anyone interested in science and literature, reading practices, or Victorian intellectual culture.andquot;
In The Nature of the Book
, a tour de force of cultural history, Adrian Johns constructs an entirely original and vivid picture of print culture and its many arenasand#8212;commercial, intellectual, political, and individual.
"A compelling exposition of how authors, printers, booksellers and readers competed for power over the printed page. . . . The richness of Mr. Johns's book lies in the splendid detail he has collected to describe the world of books in the first two centuries after the printing press arrived in England."and#8212;Alberto Manguel, Washington Times
"[A] mammoth and stimulating account of the place of print in the history of knowledge. . . . Johns has written a tremendously learned primer."and#8212;D. Graham Burnett, New Republic
"A detailed, engrossing, and genuinely eye-opening account of the formative stages of the print culture. . . . This is scholarship at its best."and#8212;Merle Rubin, Christian Science Monitor
"The most lucid and persuasive account of the new kind of knowledge produced by print. . . . A work to rank alongside McLuhan."and#8212;John Sutherland, The Independent
"Entertainingly written. . . . The most comprehensive account available . . . well documented and engaging."and#8212;Ian Maclean, Times Literary Supplement
Adrian Johns constructs an entirely original and vivid picture of print culture and its many arenas--commercial, intellectual, political, and individual. "The Nature of the Book" is a tour de force of cultural history. 125 halftones.
In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain, books of travel and exploration were much more than simply the printed experiences of intrepid authors. They were works of both artistry and industryandmdash;products of the complex, and often contested, relationships between authors and editors, publishers and printers. These books captivated the reading public and played a vital role in creating new geographical truths. In an age of global wonder and of expanding empires, there was no publisher more renowned for its travel books than the House of John Murray.
Drawing on detailed examination of the John Murray Archive of manuscripts, images, and the firmandrsquo;s correspondence with its many authorsandmdash;a list that included such illustrious explorers and scientists as Charles Darwin and Charles Lyell, and literary giants like Jane Austen, Lord Byron, and Sir Walter Scottandmdash;Travels into Print considers how journeys of exploration became published accounts and how travelers sought to demonstrate the faithfulness of their written testimony and to secure their personal credibility. This fascinating study in historical geography and book history takes modern readers on a journey into the nature of exploration, the production of authority in published travel narratives, and the creation of geographical authorshipandmdash;a journey bound together by the unifying force of a world-leading publisher.
About the Author
Innes M. Keighren is a senior lecturer in human geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of Bringing Geography to Book: Ellen Semple and the Reception of Geographical Knowledge.Charles W. J. Withers is the Ogilvie Professor of Geography at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author or coauthor of many books, including Placing the Enlightenment: Thinking Geographically about the Age of Reason.Bill Bell is professor of bibliography at Cardiff University. He is the general editor of the four-volume Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland and editor of The Library: The Transactions of the Bibliographical Society.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
A Note on Conventions
1: Introduction: The Book of Nature and the Nature of the Book
2: Literatory Life: The Culture and Credibility of the Printed Book in Early Modern London
3: "The Advancement of Wholesome Knowledge": The Politics of Print and the Practices of Propriety
4: John Streater and the Knights of the Galaxy: Republicanism, Natural Knowledge, and the Politics of Printing
5: Faust and the Pirates: The Cultural Construction of the Printing Revolution
6: The Physiology of Reading: Print and the Passions
7: Piracy and Usurpation: Natural Philosophy in the Restoration
8: Histories of the Heavens: John Flamsteed, Isaac Newton, and the Historia Coelestis Britannica