Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780226183701 Published January 2015
E-book $7.00 to $40.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226183848 Published December 2014 Also Available From
E-book Retailers: Amazon Kindle Apple iBooks B&N Nook Chegg Kno Kobo Library Vendors: ebrary

Loving Literature

A Cultural History

Deidre Shauna Lynch

Loving Literature

Deidre Shauna Lynch

352 pages | 13 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2015
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780226183701 Published January 2015
E-book $7.00 to $40.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226183848 Published December 2014
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.
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

Review Quotes
Times Higher Education
"A groundbreaking examination of literary affections. Coming at a moment when the field of literary studies is in crisis, in danger of losing its legitimacy, this account of our emotional commitment to books is especially important. . . . At every point, the author’s own scholarly acumen and love of literature are clearly on display. She demonstrates, even as she reasons, that professional literary scholars can dispassionately and critically analyse the texts they love and intimately experience.”
Joshua Rothman | New Yorker
"Reading Loving Literature, I couldn’t help but see the romance that Lynch describes everywhere—from my local bookstore, where one can buy a tote bag with the likeness of Virginia Woolf or George Orwell, to the inevitable instances in which dead writers betray their present-day devotees."
Times Literary Supplement
“An enthralling account of the complex relationship between reading and feeling. . . . By the end of Deidre Shauna Lynch’s wonderful study, one is left less with a definitive sense of ‘why’ we love literature (let alone why we should or shouldn’t) than with these long-lasting flashes of illumination. They are what make this book easy to love, like the best kind of literary history.”
Chronicle of Higher Education
“One welcome feature of Lynch’s book is that it highlights the ways in which our feelings about literature can inform intellectual choices that are typically justified on epistemological grounds.”
Los Angeles Review of Books
“[Lynch’s] investigation into the way late-18th- and early 19th-century readers felt and expressed their love of books is beautifully focused. . . . Like so many great arguments—Said’s on Orientalism, Anderson’s on the Nation, Butler’s on Performativity—, Lynch’s argument will be loved because it speaks both to and for us, of things we already knew but in terms that are historically astute.”
Choice
“A wide-ranging study. . . . The book is strongest in its detailed examination of understudied figures . . . and its sensitivity to the social forces that shape reader responses. . . . Advanced scholars will benefit from Lynch’s unknotting of intertwined public and private histories of earlier readers and scholars—a subject of relevance in the current climate, in which it seems increasingly untenable to make one’s living by loving literature. Highly recommended.”
Leah Price, Harvard University
Loving Literature combines dry wit with 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.”
Ian Duncan, University of California, Berkeley
Loving Literature is a revelatory achievement, a major work that showcases cultural history at its very finest, combining high scholarship with democratic inclusiveness, infectious enthusiasm, and clarity of style. Lynch argues that the emergence of ‘literature’ in its modern sense in the Romantic period involved a structural transformation of the relation between work and reader, in which literature became the domain of a new affective intimacy at the core of private life. Written with verve and eloquence, Loving Literature is at every point alive, imaginatively attuned to its theme. Here is a critic whose own love of literature, far from softening her critical acumen, endows it with sympathetic force.”
Rita Felski, University of Virginia
“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.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style |

Chicago Blog: Literature

Events in Literature

Keep Informed

JOURNALs in Literature