Roomscape: Women Writers in the British Museum from George by Susan David Bernstein

By Susan David Bernstein

Roomscape explores a selected website - the studying Room of the British Museum - as an area of creative strength on the subject of the emergence of contemporary ladies writers in Victorian and early twentieth-century London. Drawing on archival fabrics, Roomscape is the 1st examine to combine documentary, historic, and literary assets to envision the importance of this house and its assets for girls who wrote translations, poetry, and fiction. This booklet demanding situations an overview of the studying Room of the British Museum as a bastion of sophistication and gender privilege, a picture demonstrated by way of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's personal. Roomscape additionally questions the price of privateness and autonomy in buildings of woman authorship. instead of viewing interpreting and writing as solitary, Roomscape investigates the general public, social, and spatial dimensions of literary creation. the consequences of this learn achieve into the present electronic period and its variations of practices of examining, writing, and archiving. in addition to an appendix of extraordinary readers on the British Museum from the final centuries, the e-book contributes to scholarship on George Eliot, Amy Levy, Eleanor Marx, Clementina Black, Constance Black Garnett, Christina Rossetti, Mathilde Blind, and Virginia Woolf.

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Extra info for Roomscape: Women Writers in the British Museum from George Eliot to Virginia Woolf (Edinburgh Critical Studies in Victorian Culture)

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From the vantage point of readers, especially female readers, this public space functioned in subtle and manifold ways. Hoberman uses the ‘disorder’ of a Habermasian public sphere permeated with women readers she identifies with the private sphere as a more robust way to theorise this venue (178–9). In place of the conventionally gendered alignment of public and masculinity, private and femininity, exteriority emphasises the circulatory syntax of networks, like Bourdieu’s ‘space of possibles’, a working within and through the constraints of institutional, social and architectural structures of this library space.

Eight years later, her translation of Ludwig Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity appeared under the name of ‘Marian Evans’, the only time Eliot’s work was printed in Britain with this byline. Influenced by the German Higher Criticism, both texts demystified Christian scripture and contributed to the evolution of a religion of humanity for Eliot, a crucial idea in her fiction writing. As this chapter shows, Marx, Clementina Black, Constance Black Garnett and Amy Levy engaged in translation work, and sometimes this work was facilitated through their contacts or research at the British Museum.

By that point, she was assisting Murray with his dictionary project and correcting translations of her father’s Capital (Kapp 1972: 225). The year before, a German socialist commented about this library labourer that she was already working hard at the British Museum, partly for her father, partly ‘devilling’, that is, taking excerpts or doing research for a pittance to save well-to-do people who wanted to write books the trouble of looking things up for themselves. (Kapp 1972: 206) Why Marx took on this ‘devilling’ is evident in another letter to her sister Jenny in 1882: ‘After all work is the chief thing.

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