Peter Washington

Writer & Co

The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period


Cambridge University Press 765pp £90 order from our bookshop

AS EVERY HARASSED commuter knows, there would seem to be no more private activity than reading. Open a novel and you leave behind the torture of the 6.20 from Paddington or Victoria for the world you share with your favourite authors. Look down the carriage and you will see fellow travellers doing the same, each enclosed in his own literary cocoon. In such cases, reading becomes a retreat, a sanctuary, a place of safety and fulfilment rarely to be found in ordinary experience. Yet, as William St Clair shows in his new book, this notion of reading as distinctively private is comparatively new. It may even be a product of the exhausting modern life from which it provides a refuge.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,