Loving Literature: A Cultural History

Hardcover | January 19, 2015

byDeidre Shauna Lynch

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One of the most common—and wounding—misconceptions about literary scholars today is that they simply don’t love books. While those actually working in literary studies can easily refute this claim, such a response risks obscuring a more fundamental question: why should they?

That question led Deidre Shauna Lynch into the historical and cultural investigation of Loving Literature. How did it come to be that professional literary scholars are expected not just to study, but to love literature, and to inculcate that love in generations of students? What Lynch discovers is that books, and the attachments we form to them, have played a vital role in the formation of private life—that the love of literature, in other words, is deeply embedded in the history of literature. Yet at the same time, our love is neither self-evident nor ahistorical: our views of books as objects of affection have clear roots in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century publishing, reading habits, and domestic history.

While never denying the very real feelings that warm our relationship to books, Loving Literature nonetheless serves as a riposte to those who use the phrase “the love of literature” as if its meaning were transparent. Lynch writes, “It is as if those on the side of love of literature had forgotten what literary texts themselves say about love’s edginess and complexities.” With this masterly volume, Lynch restores those edges and allows us to revel in those complexities.

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From the Publisher

One of the most common—and wounding—misconceptions about literary scholars today is that they simply don’t love books. While those actually working in literary studies can easily refute this claim, such a response risks obscuring a more fundamental question: why should they? That question led Deidre Shauna Lynch into the historical and...

Deidre Shauna Lynch is professor of English at Harvard University and the Chancellor Jackman Professor of English at the University of Toronto. She is the author of The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:January 19, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022618370X

ISBN - 13:9780226183701

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: At Home in English

Part 1: Choosing an Author as You Choose a Friend
Chapter 1: Making It Personal

Part 2: Possessive Love
Chapter 2: Literary History and the Man Who Loved Too Much
Chapter 3: Wedded to Books: Nineteenth-Century Bookmen at Home

Part 3: English Literature for Everyday Use
Chapter 4: Going Steady: Canons’ Clockwork

Part 4: Dead Poets Societies
Chapter 5: Canon Love in Gothic Libraries
Chapter 6: Poetry at Death’s Door

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Where does the love of literature come from? And why is it so often unfairly maligned or absurdly idealized? In this fascinating account, Lynch delves into the history of literary appreciation and affection. Professional rigor, it turns out, is not so very far removed from amateur love; analysis and attachment are closely intertwined. At a moment when literary studies is reflecting anew on its defining purpose, this is a very timely and important book.”