Books and Religious Devotion: The Redemptive Reading of an Irishman in Nineteenth-Century New…

Paperback | December 23, 2015

byAllan F. Westphall

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In Books and Religious Devotion, Allan Westphall presents a study of the book-collecting habits and annotation practices of Thomas Connary, an Irish immigrant farmer who lived in New Hampshire in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Connary led a pious life that revolved around the use, annotation, and sharing of religious books. His surviving annotated volumes provide a revealing glimpse into the utility of books for a common reader—and they show how one remarkable, eccentric reader turned religious books into near icons. Through a careful excavation of book adaptations and enhancements, Westphall gives us insight into the range of opportunities provided by the material book for recording and communicating Connary's religious fervor. The study also investigates the broader nineteenth-century cultural setting, in which books are seen as testimonies of personal faith and come to function as instruments of social interaction in both domestic and public spheres. Underlying Connary’s many and varied interactions with books is his belief that working in books, as physical objects, can be a devout exercise instrumental in human salvation.

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In Books and Religious Devotion, Allan Westphall presents a study of the book-collecting habits and annotation practices of Thomas Connary, an Irish immigrant farmer who lived in New Hampshire in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Connary led a pious life that revolved around the use, annotation, and sharing of religious books....

Allan F. Westphall is an honorary research fellow at the University of St. Andrews.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.56 inPublished:December 23, 2015Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271064056

ISBN - 13:9780271064055

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface: A Discovery and Serendipitous Journeys

Introduction

Chapter 1: Irish American Print Culture in the Nineteenth Century: A Private Library

Epiphany: “Seeing very plainly”

Chapter 2: “Labouring in my Books:” Thomas Connary’s Book Enhancements

Epiphany: The Lamp

Chapter 3: Redemptive Reading in the Connary Household

Epiphany: The Road to Lancaster

Chapter 4: The Farmer’s Treasure: Thomas Connary Reading St. Francis of Sales and Julian

of Norwich

Epiphany: “No priest or bishop in this church but Himself alone”

Chapter 5: Book Keeping, Longing, and Besetment

Epilogue: Rome Uninvited

Appendix

Bibliography

Editorial Reviews

“Allan Westphall has made quite a remarkable find: a late nineteenth-century Irish immigrant who, deep in Puritan New England, left ample traces of his reading of devotional texts, including Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love. Westphall unfolds the significance of this material through an exceptional range of inquiries into the Protestant publishers in Boston who printed Catholic devotional texts; into Irish immigrant life in New Hampshire; and into reading practices and the purpose, status, and value of marginal annotations. This study is richly diverse in its illuminations and a model of what the history of the book might contribute to social and religious history, as well as to our understanding of the mind of a reader whose visions led Protestant authorities to declare him insane. As our acquaintance with Thomas Connary deepens, we reflect on our own practices and experiences as readers, not all of which we might wish to confide to posterity. Connary has found in Allan Westphall a most ingenious and sympathetic interpreter of his marginalia and interleavings.”—Charles Lock, University of Copenhagen