Posted by Helen on November 07, 1997 at 06:49:11:
I've just been reading a collection of essays about the history of reading: I was supposed to read just the Renaissance ones, but I seem to have slipped into the C18th by mistake ;-)
I'm going to post some stuff about libraries as sociable rather than private places on the P&P board, because I think it's relevant to Mr. Bennet, but here is some factual stuff:
This is from Naomi Tadmor: "In the even my wife read to meL Women, Reading, and Household Life in the C18th"
In the 1790's, approx. 56,000 books were in circulation per year (this is as opposed to 21,000 in 1710's and 325,000 in the 1870's). During this period, there was a widening price gap between the "remaindered" books sold cheaply and the developing antiquarian booksellers.
James Raven: "From promotion to proscription: arrangements for reading in C18th libraries"
(this is the one I'm going to discuss on the P&P board)
He talks about the sociability of libraries, as places for reading aloud, card games and music, as well as private reading. Then he cites a picture by Hogarth ("The Cholmondeley Family" 1738) where the whole family, including the baby, are in the library, and two little boys are playing a game which involves climbing up on piles of folios and jumping off them.
John Brewer: "Reconstructing the Reader"
He talks about Anna Larpent, born 1758, who married the Inspector of Plays in the Chamberlain's Office and read voraciously, in English, French, Italian, fiction, poetry, sermons, politics, everything, and wrote her thoughts down in her journal, which runs to 17 volumes.
He gives a typical day in her life: she rose at 7-30, spent some time in self-examination (religious devotion) and then read two chapters of Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, before breakfast!
The book is: The Practice and Representation of Reading in England, eds. James Raven, Helen Small, and Naomi Tadmor, Cambridge University Press, 1996.
It comes with an illustration of a Rowlandesque cartoon of a man and a woman enthusiastically reading the horror novel The Monk... in the Privy...
Hope this was interesting,
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