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How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain$
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Leah Price

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691114170

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691114170.001.0001

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(p.258) Conclusion
How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain

Leah Price

Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter looks at George Gissing's New Grub Street (1985). Gissing's satire identifies a diffuse threat: that the book might become a vector for the social entanglements from which it's supposed to provide an escape. By the nineteenth century, the emotions generated by shared reading were coded less positively. Today, a gulf separates any literary critic's description of his own reading of a particular text—whose interest lies in its atypicality, even its perverseness—from a scholar's description of readings that are removed from his own world and whose agent is imagined as either collective or representative. In recent memory, that gulf has mapped on to a division of labor between two disciplines, literary criticism and cultural history.

Keywords:   George Gissing, books, social entanglements, shared reading, literary criticism, cultural history

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