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" One Of The Greatest Ornaments To A Gentleman": Private Libraries

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Chapter Summary

This chapter considers the Scottish Enlightenment holdings of the 400 private library catalogues so far discovered to survive from eighteenth-century Scotland; but before their significance can be appreciated, one must first understand more fully the practical and conceptual problems inherent in this approach to studying the history of reading. Some problems can be easily dealt with. One of the principal criticisms of David Lundberg and Henry F. May's study is that their analysis does not acknowledge the inevitable chronological distortions involved in comparing over a long period the relative popularity of books that appeared at different times. Analysis of book ownership in provincial Scotland gives a very general sense of the material distribution of the books of the Enlightenment, demonstrating that histories, imaginative literature and philosophical books were much more widely available than scientific and medical books.

Keywords: David Lundberg; Henry F. May's; private library; Scotland



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