The Stories of Reading in the Eighteenth-Century Novels

  • Joanna Maciulewicz
Part of the New Directions in Book History book series (NDBH)


This chapter shows how eighteenth-century fiction reflects and tries to define the ways of reading by exploring the diverse and unpredictable effects which the growing rates of literacy may have upon social life and the relationship between literacy and power. Novelists, such as Henry Fielding, Frances Burney, Charlotte Lennox and Samuel Richardson, describe the tensions caused by the conflicting influences of diverse kinds of writing, classical, religious or popular, upon values and social roles and the attempts to control the impact of texts by developing and teaching rules of their interpretation and evaluation to the new readers. They also show that the expansion of the reading public may lead to the advent of new interpretative codes which could potentially engender the transformation of the social order.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna Maciulewicz
    • 1
  1. 1.Adam Mickiewicz University in PoznańPoznańPoland

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