Commonplace Books and Reading in Georgian England by David Allan

By David Allan

This pioneering exploration of Georgian males and women's reviews as readers explores their use of average books for recording favorite passages and reflecting upon what that they had learn, revealing forgotten elements in their advanced dating with the broadcast observe. It exhibits how indebted English readers frequently remained to strategies for dealing with, soaking up and puzzling over texts that have been rooted in classical antiquity, in Renaissance humanism and in a considerably oral tradition. It additionally finds how a chain of comparable assumptions in regards to the nature and objective of examining stimulated the jobs that literature performed in English society within the a while of Addison, Johnson and Byron; how the behavior and tactics required via commonplacing affected readers' tastes and so assisted in shaping literary models; and the way the event of analyzing and responding to texts more and more inspired literate women and men to visualize themselves as individuals of a well mannered, dependable and seriously acutely aware public.

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563. 9 What is a commonplace book? 16 Naming protocols for commonplace books, then, were delightfully inconsistent and not always particularly illuminating. Yet their visual appearance was, if anything, less uniform still. At one extreme lay so-called ‘commonplace books’ that were actually printed texts in their own right, a piratical usage hinting at a published work that sought to arrogate unto itself some of the essential practical functions ordinarily reserved for manuscript commonplacing. A good example was The Lounger’s CommonPlace Book (1792) by the medical writer Jeremiah Whitaker Newman, a compendium of literary and topical anecdotes whose label also deliberately echoed The Lounger (1785–7), Henry Mackenzie’s popular vehicle for miscellaneous essays.

132–3. 390, pp. 1–21, 43–4. 7 ╇ Rush, Autobiography, p. 36. The commonplace book is at pp. 171–360. 8 ╇ BL:€Add. MS. 22667; Boswell, Defence, p. 63. 5 6 28 Commonplace Books and Reading in Georgian England readers alighted upon to describe what they were creating. Many, indeed, moved in the opposite direction to Bowle and Rush, disdaining to embrace remote antiquity and opting instead for solidly descriptive titles drawn from everyday vocabulary. 11 Vernacular strategies for defining and describing commonplace books in other terms, however, were not necessarily without complication.

18 Cogan, ‘Rodolphus Agricola’; P. Mack, Renaissance, esp. ‘Rudolph Agricola’s Topics’, pp. 256–68. 19 Bolgar, Classical, pp. 265–72. 20 Two treatises by Erasmus, both from 1512, were among the significant early results. De ratione studii, like Agricola’s work, emphasised that both masters and students should compile commonplace books as part of a Latin education. De duplici copia verborum ac rerum, meanwhile, provided advice on constructing a compendium of excerpts with which one’s participation in discussion, argument and debate could be enriched.

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