By Ina Ferris

This e-book re-reads the tangled kin of publication tradition and literary tradition within the early 19th century via restoring to view the determine of the bookman and the effaced historical past of his e-book golf equipment. As outliers placing themselves into the matrix of literary creation instead of final inside of that of reception, either provoked debate via generating, writing, and circulating books in ways in which increased primary issues of literary orientation in lateral instructions no longer coincident with these of the literary sphere. Deploying a variety of old, archival and literary fabrics, the learn combines the background and geography of books, cultural conception, and literary heritage to make seen a bookish array of alterative networks, genres, and destinations that have been obscured by means of the literary sphere in developing its authority as arbiter of the trendy booklet.

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Book-Men, Book Clubs, and the Romantic Literary Sphere

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Extra resources for Book-Men, Book Clubs, and the Romantic Literary Sphere

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His essay specifically targets fellow periodical writers attracted to the ‘left-off finery of poetic extravagance’ (Works 8:246), but its argument derives more generally from his Unmooring the Literary Word 37 epistemological model of modern prose as a tool for the conveyance of ideas. Hence its overriding goals are specified as clarity of communication and simplicity of exchange. Hazlitt does not rule out fanciful or bookish styles (indeed he sins himself on this front), but he was a resolute champion of the plain and idiomatic style he called ‘truly English’, a style that took ‘the best words in common use’ and followed ‘the true idiom of the language’ (Works 8:242).

His enduring goal was to give bibliographical materials ‘publicity in some popular shape’ ((Reminiscences 597), but Dibdin’s understanding of what ‘popular shape’ might mean significantly altered, 32 Book-Men, Book Clubs, and the Romantic Literary Sphere and out of this alteration came his generic innovation, the bibliographical romance. Dibdin’s early career was marked by efforts to popularize bibliography in the usual sense of building a broader readership for questions of bookish and literary-historical interest.

Such book fancy encroached on literary ground by sporting with the specifically literary power of figuration, and critics quickly seized on this implication. ’51 In an important sense what distinguished bookmen was that they refused to watch their metaphors. On the contrary, they preferred to let their metaphors go: dilating tropes, turning them literal, inverting tenor-vehicle relations, and so on. As the language of bibliomania migrated into the humbler realm of the romantic familiar essay, it retained this stylistic signature.

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