19th Century/Victorian

Mansfield Park
Ed. Diedre Shauna Lynch

(2016). Jane Austen’s most ambitious novel, Mansfield Park, has always generated debate. Austen herself noted that debate when she conducted a reader survey, recording her acquaintances’ mixed reviews in a booklet she entitled “Opinions of Mansfield Park.” In her notes and introduction to this final volume in Harvard’s celebrated annotated Austen series, Deidre Shauna Lynch outlines the critical disagreements Mansfield Park has sparked and suggests that Austen’s design in writing the novel was to highlight, not downplay, the conflicted feelings its plot and heroine can inspire.

Literary Secretaries / Secretarial Culture
Leah Price

(2005). Topics range from copyright law to voice recognition software, from New Women to haunted typewriters and from the history of technology to the future of information management. Together, the essays will provide literary critics with a new angle on current debates about gender, labour, and the material text, as well as a window into the prehistory of our information age.

The Dream of the Great American Novel
Lawrence Buell

(2014). The idea of “the great American novel” continues to thrive almost as vigorously as in its nineteenth-century heyday, defying 150 years of attempts to dismiss it as amateurish or obsolete. In this landmark book, the first in many years to take in the whole sweep of national fiction, Lawrence Buell reanimates this supposedly antiquated idea, demonstrating that its history is a key to the dynamics of national literature and national identity itself.

Tocqueville’s Discovery of America
Leo Damrosch

(2010).  Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America was the product of a young man’s open-minded experience of America at a time of rapid change. In Tocqueville’s Discovery of America, the prizewinning biographer Leo Damrosch retraces Tocqueville’s nine-month journey through the young nation in 1831–1832, illuminating how his enduring ideas were born of imaginative interchange with America and Americans, and painting a vivid picture of Jacksonian America.

The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays
James Wood

(2012). The Fun Stuff confirms Wood’s preeminence, not only as a discerning judge but also as an appreciator of the contemporary novel. In twenty-three passionate, sparkling dispatches—that range over such crucial writers as Thomas Hardy, Leon Tolstoy, Edmund Wilson, and Mikhail Lermontov—Wood offers a panoramic look at the modern novel.

The Novel of Purpose: Literature and Social Reform in the Anglo-American World
Amanda Claybaugh

(2006). In the nineteenth century, Great Britain and the United States shared a single literary marketplace that linked the reform movements, as well as the literatures, of the two nations. The writings of transatlantic reformers—antislavery, temperance, and suffrage activists—gave novelists a new sense of purpose and prompted them to invent new literary forms. The result was a distinctively Anglo-American realism, in which novelists, conceiving of themselves as reformers, sought to act upon their readers—and, through their readers, the world.

The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George Eliot
Leah Price

(2003). The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel brings together two traditionally antagonistic fields, book history and narrative theory, to challenge established theories of “the rise of the novel.” Covering British novelists from Richardson to George Eliot, this study asks why the epistolary novel disappeared, how the book review emerged, and how editors’ reproduction of old texts has shaped authors’ production of new ones.

How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain
Leah Price

(2012). Supplementing close readings with a sensitive reconstruction of how Victorians thought and felt about books, Price offers a new model for integrating literary theory with cultural history. How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain reshapes our understanding of the interplay between words and objects in the nineteenth century and beyond.