Vanity Fair and the Celestial City - Isabel Rivers

Vanity Fair and the Celestial City

Dissenting, Methodist, and Evangelical Literary Culture in England 1720-1800

In John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, the pilgrims cannot reach the Celestial City without passing through Vanity Fair, where everything is bought and sold. In recent years there has been much analysis of commerce and consumption in Britain during the long eighteenth century, and of the dramatic expansion of popular publishing. Les mer
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In John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, the pilgrims cannot reach the Celestial City without passing through Vanity Fair, where everything is bought and sold. In recent years there has been much analysis of commerce and consumption in Britain during the long eighteenth century, and of the dramatic expansion of popular publishing. Similarly, much has been written on the extraordinary effects of the evangelical revivals of the eighteenth century in Britain,
Europe, and North America. But how did popular religious culture and the world of print interact? It is now known that religious works formed the greater part of the publishing market for most of the century. What religious books were read, and how? Who chose them? How did they get into people's hands?

Vanity Fair and the Celestial City is the first book to answer these questions in detail. It explores the works written, edited, abridged, and promoted by evangelical dissenters, Methodists both Arminian and Calvinist, and Church of England evangelicals in the period 1720 to 1800. Isabel Rivers also looks back to earlier sources and forward to the continued republication of many of these works well into the nineteenth century. The first part is concerned with the publishing and
distribution of religious books by commercial booksellers and not-for-profit religious societies, and the means by which readers obtained them and how they responded to what they read. The second part shows that some of the most important publications were new versions of earlier nonconformist, episcopalian, Roman
Catholic, and North American works. The third part explores the main literary kinds, including annotated bibles, devotional guides, exemplary lives, and hymns. Building on many years' research into the religious literature of the period, Rivers discusses over two hundred writers and provides detailed case studies of popular and influential works.
Forlag: Oxford University Press
Innbinding: Innbundet
Språk: Engelsk
ISBN: 9780198269960
Format: 24 x 16 cm
Winner of Honourable mention for the Richard L. Greaves Prize of the International John Bunyan Society Finalist of the 2019 PROSE Award in Theology & Religious Studies by the Association of American Publishers.

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«The book is an invaluable companion to eighteenth-century English religion and print culture. It deserves a place alongside major reference works on the scholar's desk—a book to be kept close to hand. ... one of the most significant works to appear in this field over the past decade.»

John Coffey, Wesley and Methodist Studies

«This magnificent study must surely be required reading for everyone interested in 18th-century religious literature and history. Moreover, it contains much that the student of 19th-century religious culture will find highly significant.»

Literature and Theology

«The wealth of this book lies in its detailed case studies, demonstrating the complexity of a little known cultural universe in which no text, however sacred, was fixed in a definitive form. The abundance of detail will make it an invaluable reference work for those with interests in religious, literary, and intellectual history, as well as the history of books and reading»

Françoise Deconinck-Brossard

«This is an absorbing read and I enjoyed it greatly. I recommend it to all those interested in these questions. Reading the works studied here occupied our predecessors and helped to shape the world in which they kept and taught their faith. We should know more of how they came to understand the Christian gospel and how they acted on that understanding.»

Alan Argent, Congregational History Society Magazine

«This book is a phenomenal work of scholarship. Its extraordinary originality and thoroughness reveal the abundant wealth of almost half a century's research. A conspicuous excellence of this scholarly book is its functional clarity of style and presentation.»

Robin Schofield, Literature and Theology

«Vanity Fair and the Celestial City will appeal to literary critics, church historians, and those interested in the nature, creation, and importance of devotional texts and their use in other contexts. In addition, Rivers provides valuable insights within her footnotes.»

Tom Schwanda, Associate Professor of Christian Formation and Ministry at Wheaton College, Reading Re

«This enviable feat of scholarship weaves a deep appreciation of the intangible facets of spirituality and ethical philosophy into an understanding of the realities of a rich bookish culture. Protestant Dissenters are absolved from association with the somewhat dated evaluative category of 'counter-Enlightenment' and placed at the heart of the intellectual, cultural, and commercial life of eighteenth-century England.»

David Manning, IHR Reviews in History Series

«Rivers's book will transform how literary scholars, religious historians, and book historians approach eighteenth-century culture. It invites comparison in terms of methods and materials with N. H. Keeble's The Literary Culture of Nonconformity in Later Seventeenth-Century England (1987), a study with a greater sense of the purely literary quality of the writings produced by Dissenters in the wake of the Great Ejection.»

Nicholas Seager, Digital Defoe: Studies in Defoe and his Contemporaries

«This magnificent cornucopia of information...While the wealth of information on printers and books (their size and cost) will be invaluable for researchers, the chapters devoted to reading offer fascinating information both on what readers did with books and what publishers ardently hoped that they would do.»

Ioana Patuleanu, Mercer County Community College, The Scriblerian

«..a most unique and remarkable book that will delight every reader and lover of books. ...Recommended»

Rev. E. T. Kirkland, English Churchman

«Never before has this topic been approached with such depth and breadth in one volume. The massive amount of material accumulated by Rivers through years of research has enabled her to provide comprehensive answers to some of the most seminal questions governing the field of eighteenth-century print culture... Her study is detailed, exhaustive, and overwhelmingly persuasive»

Timothy Whelan, Georgia Southern University, USA, Bunyan Studies

«This book has been eagerly awaited, and it does not of the most significant works to appear in this field over the past decade.»

John Coffey, University of Leicester, Wesley and Methodist Studies

«The scholarship represented here, and in its footnotes, is exhaustive . . . but always to the point. I cannot imagine that any serious scholar will ever simply cite author and title in a book again, without having carefully checked the edition (including date) and reflected on where it comes in a sequence; it will also be worthwhile checking to see whether the text is original, or whether it has been amended or "improved" by later editors to conform with contemporary norms, often theological.»

David Thompson, Baptist Quarterly

«Isabel Rivers's study offers an unparalleled guide to the complex relationship between a large swathe of religious opinion in eighteenth-century England and the contemporary literary culture. This whole volumeis an exceptional achievement based on decades ofwork: at no point is the author's scholarship ever anything other than solid and reliable.»

Nigel Aston, Journal of Ecclesiastical History
Part I Books and their Readers
1: Principal Booksellers and Publishing Outlets
2: Religious Societies for Distributing Books
3: Reading
Part II Sources
4: The Nonconformist Inheritance
5: The Episcopalian Inheritance
6: Roman Catholic Influences
7: North American Connexions
Part III Literary Kinds
8: Interpreting the Bible
9: Practical Works
10: Lives and Letters
11: Poems and Hymns
Appendix: Key Writers and Editors
Selected Primary Bibliography
Isabel Rivers is Professor of Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Culture at Queen Mary University of London. Her main interests are in the relations between literature, religion, philosophy, and the history of the book in the long eighteenth century, and she has published widely on these subjects. She directs the Dissenting Academies Project hosted by the Queen Mary Centre for Religion and Literature in English.