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" This Map Of My Mind": Recovering Historical Reading Experiences

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Chapter Summary

This chapter assesses the ways and means by which historical reading experiences are recoverable. Diaries can also be helpful in recovering past reading experiences, not least when they record the books someone actually read in the past. Diaries help to contextualise historical reading, fleshing out the evidence of reading habits provided by catalogues and borrowing records. At their most expansive, they could also operate as a self-fashioning genre influenced by the cult of Addisonian politeness. Ridpath's diary demonstrates, they can ultimately reveal a great deal about the meanings assigned to books in the past, illuminating how reading contributed directly to the formation and consolidation of personal identities. In this, they were closely related to two specialist reading practices with deep intellectual roots and whose survival allows us to construct a history of reading experiences more systematically: marginalia and commonplace books.

Keywords: commonplace books; diaries; historical reading experiences; marginalia; Ridpath



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