By Stephen Colclough

This quantity explores the heritage of examining within the British Isles in the course of a interval during which the published be aware turned all pervasive. From prosperous readers of 'amatory fiction', via to women and men examining surreptitiously on the Victorian railway book place, it argues number of new examining groups emerged in this interval.

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100 Flint’s argument is supported by Jason Scott-Warren’s work on one early-modern reader whose ‘eccentric’ reading patterns ‘could not have been predicted from the content of his books’. 102 This book aims to expose the diversity and range of different reading practices available at a number of different ‘historical moments’ between 1695 and 1870. Although it often reveals the obstinate individualism of the reader, it does not suggest that all reading is inherently appropriative, anarchic or subversive.

And, while the notion that a text like The Vindication had little influence upon the general mentality of the period is valuable – proving what was not available to be read is essential to the history of reading – this insistence on the ability of the dominant ideology to ‘overwhelm’ new ideas seems unnecessarily negative. It conceives of a dominant mentality, rather than mentalities. Of course, as St Clair notes, by the 1820s some politically and aesthetically radical texts, including Byron’s Don Juan, actually enjoyed a very large audience.

26 Consuming Texts To accept the evidence of readers, such as Gabriel Harvey, Jean Ranson and Anna Larpent as ‘typical’ or ‘common’ would clearly be a mistake as they had much greater access to recently published texts than most of their contemporaries. However, this does not mean that we should discount the evidence of reading that they reveal. Indeed, the concept of the ‘common’ or typical reader has begun to appear increasingly anachronistic to scholars who are concerned with issues of difference and diversity.

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