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Images of the Woman Reader in Victorian British and American Fiction / Edition 1

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2003 Hard cover New. No dust jacket as issued. Excellent. Brand New, Perfect Condition. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 304 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. ... For Victorian women, danger lurked between the covers of a book. In an exploration of this controversial notion, Catherine Golden examines women and reading in literary and visual representations in Britain and America. Illustrated with 42 pictures by popular and renowned artists of the era, her book vividly brings to life the world of the 19th-and early 20th-century female reader. Read more Show Less

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Overview

"By comparing 'ideologies surrounding women and books' on both sides of the Atlantic, it offers new interpretations of canonical texts in a series of fascinating pairings of British and American texts. . . . The most original aspect of the book is its examination of the woman reader as she appeared in illustrations in popular novels and the way illustration functioned as ‘a vehicle for illuminating issues of gender.’"--Emma Liggins, coeditor of Feminist Readings of Victorian Popular Texts, Edge Hill College of Higher Education, Lancashire, U.K.

"Argues persuasively that female reading practice was highly varied and hotly contested in this period and that this fact gave rise to a wide range of artistic representations. By examining visual as well as verbal material, she distinguishes her analysis and appeals to a wide scholarly audience."--Linda J. Docherty, Bowdoin College

For Victorian women, danger lurked between the covers of a book. In an exploration of this controversial notion, Catherine Golden examines women and reading in literary and visual representations in Britain and America. Illustrated with 42 pictures by popular and renowned artists of the era, her book vividly brings to life the world of the 19th- and early 20th-century female reader.

While industrialization was transforming print culture, Victorian women on both sides of the Atlantic made great strides in education, and reading came to be seen as a mark of gentility and a means to promote family unity.  But at the same time, a perceived association between excessive novel reading and ill health raised alarm: the prospect of unchecked reading coupled with an overactive imagination led critics to debate if, what, when, where, and why middle- and upper-class women should read.

Golden presents a concise historical framework of the topic and examines how authors and illustrators responded to the arguments for and against women's reading. She discusses heroines in both popular and intellectual works by writers such as Charles Dickens, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, George Eliot, William Makepeace Thackeray, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Henry James, and depictions of the woman reader by prominent illustrators such as George Cruikshank, Jessie Willcox Smith, and Hablot Knight Browne. She also includes biographies of both authors and illustrators and analyzes how they used reading as a literary, expressive, or political device.

With its focus on the power of reading and of book illustration as well as its attention to primary materials and gender issues and its discussion of texts widely used in college teaching, this book will be valuable across a range of disciplines that include literature, history, art history, women's studies, and the study of the book.

Catherine J. Golden, professor of English at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, is the editor or coeditor of four books, most recently The Mixed Legacy of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Text, Image, and Culture, 1770-1930.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813026794
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 11/28/2003
  • Edition description: First
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.44 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Introduction 1
Pt. I A Historical Overview
1 Women Readers and Reading in Victorian Britain and America 17
Pt. II Fictional Representations of the Woman Reader
2 Transatlantic Representations of the Woman Reader: Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (1847), Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady (1881), Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (1868,1869), and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights (1847) 51
3 Prophetic Reading: Maggie Tulliver of George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss (1860) 79
4 Romance Consumers: Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1857) and Mary Elizabeth Braddon's The Doctor's Wife (1864) 96
5 The Case for Compatibility: Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (1814), George Eliot's Middlemarch (1872), and Mona Caird's The Daughters of Danaus (1894) 117
Pt. III Illustrations of the Woman Reader
6 An Illustrative Gallery of Victorian British and American Women Readers: The Illustrated Fiction of Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Mark Twain, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Anthony Trollope 139
7 The Book as Portal: Depictions of the Mind Traveler in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures under Ground (1864) and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wall-Paper" (1892) 187
8 "What Is the Use of a Book?" Becky Sharp as Revolutionary Reader in William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair (1848) 202
Conclusion 225
Notes 233
Bibliography 265
Index 279
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