By Ina Ferris
This booklet re-reads the tangled kin of booklet tradition and literary tradition within the early 19th century by way of restoring to view the determine of the bookman and the effaced historical past of his ebook golf equipment. As outliers putting themselves into the matrix of literary construction instead of final inside of that of reception, either provoked debate through generating, writing, and circulating books in ways in which multiplied basic issues of literary orientation in lateral instructions no longer coincident with these of the literary sphere. Deploying quite a lot of historic, archival and literary fabrics, the examine combines the historical past and geography of books, cultural idea, and literary background to make obvious a bookish array of alterative networks, genres, and destinations that have been obscured via the literary sphere in constructing its authority as arbiter of the trendy publication.
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Extra resources for Book-Men, Book Clubs, and the Romantic Literary Sphere
Opening by arguing for a ‘soberly pursued’ bibliography, the reviewer soon yields to the diversion of constructing a mock-biography of ‘the ardent collector of books’, which he extends well beyond the requirements of either satire or the production of copy. ’ The sad tale of the fate of a ‘daemon-led’ book-collector follows until (a full page later) ‘he too is Unmooring the Literary Word 35 laid on the shelf’. f 53 The idiom of the Gentleman’s Magazine’s owed much to the clubbish culture within which Dibdin and the Roxburghe Club operated; nonetheless both the gratuitousness and the rhetorical form of the fanciful riff are telling.
Eschewing standard protocols of representation, the self-propelled prose of book fancy at once annoyed and attracted, its insouciant pleasure in its own artifice miming the ideal of an aesthetic realm detached from the responsible realm of signification. Even as it was mocked, however, this style proved oddly contagious – ‘communicable’ in a darker sense – as it moved down from the more elite venues of bibliomaniacal collection and publication to percolate into the shabby-genteel realm of the periodical essayists where, as the chapter’s final section shows, book fancy modulated into a less extravagant register – bibliophilic rather than bibliomaniac – but continued to spar with the literary word as rooted neither in a subjectivity nor in the natural order but in words that came from and returned to old books.
60, 64). Having repeatedly announced throughout the series of articles the ‘extinction’ of the club, it now pronounces the club at an end (although it remained and continues to remain operative). In sum, something that should no longer be in existence had somehow continued to function, and the Athenaeum felt compelled to eradicate it. By this date professional and ‘improving’ learned and literary societies were firmly entrenched and displacing more informal organizations. The Roxburghe Club, however, remained firmly within club culture.