Reading Culture and Writing Practices in Nineteenth-Century France

Overview

Between about 1830 and the outbreak of the First World War, print culture, reading, and writing transformed cultural life in Western Europe in many significant ways. Book production and consumption increased dramatically, and practices such as letter- and diary-writing were widespread. This study demonstrates the importance of the nineteenth century in French cultural change and illustrates the changing priorities and concerns of l'histoire du livre since the 1970s.

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Overview

Between about 1830 and the outbreak of the First World War, print culture, reading, and writing transformed cultural life in Western Europe in many significant ways. Book production and consumption increased dramatically, and practices such as letter- and diary-writing were widespread. This study demonstrates the importance of the nineteenth century in French cultural change and illustrates the changing priorities and concerns of l'histoire du livre since the 1970s.

From the 1830s on, book production experienced an industrial revolution which led to the emergence of a mass literary culture by the close of the century. At the same time, the western world acquired mass literacy. New categories of readers became part of the reading public while western society also learned to write. Reading Culture and Writing Practices in Nineteenth-Century France examines how the concerns of historians have shifted from a search for statistical sources to more qualitative assessments of readers' responses. Martyn Lyons argues that autobiographical sources are vitally important to this investigation and he considers examples of the intimate and everyday writings of ordinary people.

Featuring original and intriguing insights as well as references to material hitherto inaccessible to English readers, this study presents a form of 'history from below' with emphasis on the individual reader and writer, and his or her experiences and perceptions.

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Editorial Reviews

Alice Garner
'Lyon's absorbing collection of essays explores the place and meanings of reading and writing in the lives of various 'reading communities'... This volume offers a fascinating introduction both to his development as a historian and to the various ways we might hear from 'actual readers', as opposed to the 'imagined' readers of reception theory.'
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802093578
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Series: Studies in Book and Print Culture Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Martyn Lyons is Professor in the School of History and Philosophy at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
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Table of Contents

Tables, Maps, Images

1 Introduction: The Importance of the Nineteenth Century 3

The Statistical Approach

2 In Search of the Bestsellers of Nineteenth-Century France, 1815-1850 15

3 Towards a National Literary Culture in France: Bookshops and the Decline of the Colporteur 43

Censorship and Commemoration

4 Fires of Expiation: Book-Burnings and Catholic Missions in Restoration France 65

5 Literary Commemoration and the Uses of History: The Gutenberg Festival in Strasbourg, 1840 92

Readers

6 The Reading Experience of Worker-Autobiographers in Nineteenth-Century Europe 111

7 Oral Culture and the Rural Community: The Veillee d'Hiver 139

8 Why We Need an Oral History of Reading 151

Writers

9 Reading Practices, Writing Practices: Intimate Writings in Nineteenth-Century France 167

10 French Soldiers and Their Correspondence: Towards a History of Writing Practices in the Firs t World War 184

App Calculating Bestsellers in Early Nineteenth-Century France 201

Notes 207

Select Bibliography 231

Index 239

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