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The Woman Reader 1837–1914$
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Kate Flint

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198121855

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198121855.001.0001

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Victorian and Edwardian Reading

Victorian and Edwardian Reading

Chapter:
(p.46) (p.47) 3 Victorian and Edwardian Reading
Source:
The Woman Reader 1837–1914
Author(s):

Kate Flint

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198121855.003.0003

The issue of reading and its effects during the Victorian and early Edwardian period did not concern women alone. It centred around the widely held belief in the affective powers of what was read. On the one hand, the beneficial potential of reading was celebrated: ‘a good book is ‘the precious life-blood of a master-spirit’, and possesses a wonderful potency of encouragement and inspiration’. On the other, it was feared that ‘desultory reading is very mischievous’. By the mid-century, certain reviewers and essayists were speculating about the general dangers specifically attendant on the rapid proliferation of print. Excessive indiscriminate reading was condemned as morally debilitating. Many Victorians wrote of reading as something that affects mental health. Others viewed reading of fiction as a form of escapism.

Keywords:   reading, women, mental health, escapism, fiction, Edwardian period, Victorian period

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