Professor Mayer’s book is an insightful, eye-opening exploration of the emergence of a new type of literary celebrity at the beginning of the nineteenth century based on close readings of Walter Scott’s correspondence. Considered by Byron himself as “the first man of his time,” Scott is an ideal case study due to the immense popularity he enjoyed during his lifetime as a result of his poetic and novelistic output, especially the Waverley cycle. Beautifully contextualized through comparisons with predecessors such as Pope and Johnson, contemporaries such as Wordsworth, Southey, and Byron, and successors such as Dickens, Hardy, and Hemingway, this study sheds considerable light on the evolution of literary celebrity in general and on the brand of celebrity that Walter Scott embodied in the public consciousness of his time in particular.
Jonathan Rose has long excelled at finding an audience among the ordinary readers whose history he has spent a career tracing, and Readers’ Liberation should prove no exception. Engaging, accessible, and polemical, it is a perfect fit for Oxford’s Literary Agenda series and is likely to attract those drawn to his earlier works, from The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (2001) to The Literary Churchill (2014). Written for and about “the general reader,” Readers’ Liberation argues that “reading can be and has been the most fundamental expression of human freedom, even in repressive societies.” Rose’s is a history of reading “built from the ground up” and is finely attentive to the diverse modes of engagement adopted by ordinary readers across time and place (vii). ☛ ☞
Innes M. Keighren, Charles W. J. Withers, and Bill Bell. Travels into Print: Exploration, Writing, and Publishing with John Murray,…
Natasha Simonova. Early Modern Authorship and Prose Continuations: Adaptation and Ownership from Sidney to Richardson. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015….
Kimberly Johnson. Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. 248p., ill. ISBN 9780812245882….