Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780226183701 Will Publish December 2014
E-book $32.00 Available for pre-order. ISBN: 9780226183848 Will Publish December 2014

Loving Literature

A Cultural History

Deidre Shauna Lynch

Deidre Shauna Lynch

352 pages | 13 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780226183701 Will Publish December 2014
E-book $32.00 ISBN: 9780226183848 Will Publish December 2014
Of the many charges laid against contemporary literary scholars, one of the most common—and perhaps the most wounding—is that they simply don't love books. And while the most obvious response is that, no, actually the profession of literary studies does acknowledge and address personal attachments to literature, that answer 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 long played a role in the formation of private life—that the love of literature, in other words, is neither incidental to, nor inextricable from, the history of literature. Yet at the same time, there is nothing self-evident or ahistorical about our love of literature: our views of books as objects of affection have clear roots in late eighteenth-century 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, its essence happy and healthy. 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.
Leah Price, Harvard University
“How did readers come to feel a personal connection to books, authors, and works of literature? As Lynch cannily points out, recent narratives of the rise of literary work take the love of literature as an unexamined backdrop. Conversely, present-day laments about the end of the love of literature never seem to acknowledge that it had a beginning. Other critics take for granted that ordinary readers have always loved literature and therefore assume that dispassionate analysis was the cultural novelty that needs explaining (or chastising). Lynch suggests rather that both phenomena emerged together and in tension with each other. The book sparkles with dry wit and polemical rigor. More fundamentally, the book enacts what it describes: Lynch’s critical distance from the love of literature does not prevent her from conveying her own infectious engagement with the texts that she analyzes. One comes away feeling not that she has debunked the literary-critical enterprise, but that she has reinvigorated it.”
Adela Pinch, University of Michigan
“A major work by a major scholar. This is truly an eagerly awaited book. Needless to say, Lynch writes not as some kind of skeptical outsider, but as a ‘lover of literature’ who seeks to understand why we professionally take all this so personally. The book will be much read and talked about across all fields of literary scholarship and beyond: a book about the love of literature is sure to attract the attention of a broad band of literature lovers both inside and outside the academy.”
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

For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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