Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Leah Price

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691114170

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691114170.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2017. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use (for details see http://www.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 11 December 2017

David Copperfield and the Absorbent Book

David Copperfield and the Absorbent Book

Chapter:
(p.72) Chapter 3 David Copperfield and the Absorbent Book
Source:
How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain
Author(s):

Leah Price

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691114170.003.0004

This chapter assesses what makes the novel associate printed matter with interruption in particular. It also asks what difference does it make that the act in which the characters are interrupted consists not of reading, but rather of using an unread book as a material prompt or alibi for inwardness and abstraction. The bait and switch that structures the midcentury bildungsroman sets readers up to expect a novel about an agent shaped by books, only to reveal the protagonist instead as an object compared to books. As the plot of David Copperfield turns a child who is acted upon into an adult who acts, its trope shifts from metaphor to metonymy. As a result, it turns only belatedly into a proto-Smilesian account of self-help. Its first debt is to an older genre that associates selfhood with helplessness and passivity—more specifically, that locates consciousness not in a person marked by books, but in a book marked by readers.

Keywords:   novel, reading, unread book, bildungsroman, books, David Copperfield, printed matter, metonymy, self-help, selfhood

Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.