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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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It-Narrative and the Book as Agent

It-Narrative and the Book as Agent

(p.107) Chapter 4 It-Narrative and the Book as Agent
How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain

Leah Price

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that the most productive overlap between recent book-historical scholarship and the longer tradition of bibliographically themed life writing lies not in their common interest in human subjects, but rather in their shared attention to the circulation of things. Analytical bibliographers have shown that books accrue meaning not just at the moment of manufacture, but through their subsequent uses: buying and selling, lending and borrowing, preserving and destroying. A history of the book that took that whole range of transactions as building blocks could usefully borrow its formal conventions from the “it-narrative”: a fictional autobiography in which a thing traces its travels among a series of richer and poorer owners.

Keywords:   circulation, life writing, book transactions, books, book buying, book selling, book preservation

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