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”

Two Nineteenth-Century Expeditionary Libraries

Guest blog: Innes M. Keighren THE DECISIONS we take about the books we pack when we travel are often informed by three factors: 1) practicality (“Will this book help me to travel safely, agreeably, and productively?”) 2) pleasure (“Will this book provide entertainment or diversion when required?”) and 3) portability (“Can I accommodate the spaceContinue reading “Two Nineteenth-Century Expeditionary Libraries”

The Myth of the Wipers Times

There are a lot of myths surrounding the history of reading. From time to time, we aim to correct historical misconceptions that have entered the realm of received wisdom. This one relates to the most celebrated trench newspaper to be printed on the Western Front during the First World War. The title of The WipersContinue reading “The Myth of the Wipers Times”

Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa

‘I have no books’ Robert Louis Stevenson complained to one of his correspondents shortly after he arrived in Samoa in 1890.  A full six months later he was able to report, not without a little ambivalence: Our books and furniture keep slowly draining up the road, in a sad state of scatterment and disrepair; IContinue reading “Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa”

Jerome in Antarctica

It was common for Renaissance artists to surround Saint Jerome with the equipment of learning—bookshelves, manuscripts, reading desk—in order to convey the image of the great scholar in the sublime isolation of his study, at once a repository for the synthesis of texts and at the same time a place for the production of newContinue reading “Jerome in Antarctica”