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84 Automne | 2016
Object Lessons: The Victorians and the Material Text

Edited by Mary Elizabeth Leighton and Lisa Surridge

This volume offers a series of ‘object lessons’ on Victorian publications from broadsides to Bibles, asking what the material forms of these texts teach us about their significance in Victorian culture. Some of our contributors direct their attention to the neglected material forms of the Victorian period—the blank journal, the almanac, the broadside temperance ballad, the thumb Bible, the Illustrated London News’s special issue printed at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and magazines for blind readers. Others consider the under-studied original material forms of now-canonical texts, including the serial and first edition of Sketches by Boz (1836), the first ‘whole book’ written by Dickens as he emerged from his early journalistic career; the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), whose page layout constructs an active child reader; and the neglected serial edition of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw (1898), written as a marketable commodity by a writer who scorned—but could not afford to ignore—the commodity market. Spanning a temporal range from the 1820s to 1912, all contributions focus attention on the physical ‘book-object’ as nineteenth- and twentieth-century readers encountered it—in all its insistent physicality.

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