Now published . . .

Three Hundred Years of Robinson Crusoe (De Gruyter, 2022) edited by Christine Haug, Johannes Frimmel, and Bill Bell 2019 marked the 300th anniversary of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The novel was an immediate success and was soon followed by imitators and translations. With the robinsonade, a new genre of adventure literature was born. These contributionsContinue reading “Now published . . .”

Some Early Travelling Libraries

TODAY the ability to store hundreds of books on a tablet or an e-reader has removed many impediments to far-flung reading. These days, anyone who has access to a mobile phone connection can download an infinite number of titles far from home. But in the past, the itinerating library, aimed mostly at the well-heeled traveller,Continue reading “Some Early Travelling Libraries”

Reading and Resistance: John Mitchel, Fenian Convict

THROUGHOUT the transportation period, a number of gentleman convicts (referred to as ‘Specials’) made their way to Australia providing evidence of the vast range of literacies and competencies among the prison population. One class of prisoner, set apart from the ordinary criminal, was those serving out sentences during the periods of Fenian unrest in Ireland.Continue reading “Reading and Resistance: John Mitchel, Fenian Convict”

Roosevelt’s Pigskin Library

IT is difficult to believe that world leaders once had time for leisurely reading. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was surely one of the more bookish. Meditating on the intimacy that can exist between readers and their books, Roosevelt once asserted that ‘If a man or a woman is fond of books he or she willContinue reading “Roosevelt’s Pigskin Library”

Now published . . . . . .

Available here from Oxford University Press ***Winner of the British Association for Victorian Studies Rosemary Mitchell Prize 2022*** ***Winner of the Australian Historical Association Kay Daniels Prize 2022 *** Crusoe’s Books: Readers in the Empire of Print, 1800-1918 Bill Bell with a foreword by Alberto Manguel THIS is a book about readers on the moveContinue reading “Now published . . . . . .”

Performative Reading

IN A PREVIOUS blog we looked at the phenomenon of Anti-Social Reading, the way in which individuals use reading to fend off the unwanted attention of others. Here we consider the way that reading can be used as a form of self-invention through the deployment of performative literacy. Certain regimes of culture and class, observedContinue reading “Performative Reading”

The Strange Afterlives of Robinson Crusoe

FOR over three centuries, The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe has engaged some of the most influential literary and philosophical minds. At the same time, few other fictional texts have provoked so many idiosyncratic readings. J.M. Coetzee, who attempted himself to rewrite the classic, thought about the many ways that Defoe’s bookContinue reading “The Strange Afterlives of Robinson Crusoe”