Loving Literature: A Cultural History (Hardback)Deidre Shauna Lynch
Hardback Published: 09/01/2015
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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 a historical 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 behind our warm 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.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press