Blog Archives

Dyche’s Guide to the English Tongue (1707)

In her paper called "Eighteenth grammars and book catalogues", Anita Auer quotes Feather (1985:34) on the popularity of Dyche’s Guide to the English Tongue: between 1733 and 1747, 33 editions came out of the work, to a total of 265,000 copies, "or nearly 18,000 copies a year, of which a mere handful is extant".

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The London Magazine, Or Gentleman’s Intelligencer on the web

When searching for reviews of Joseph Priestley’s Rudiments of English Grammar, I found that the Hathi Trust Digital Library has a collection of fully searchable issues of the London Magazine, or Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer of the years 1732-1782. The library is accessible via the Mirlyn Library Catalog from the University of Michigan and does not require a subscription or login to function. Not all issues are available but enough for scholars of eighteenth-century England.

After you have found the title via the "Basic Search" window, follow the link "Online links to individual volumes". Follow the link to the Hathi Trust Digital Library for the full-text versions. Beware that the search function is not perfect and appears to have some imperfections in the OCR, so you may have to search more than once with different keywords to find what you’re looking for. Once you’re on the Hathi Trust website, you can search other public collections. Most contain works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Textual Authority & 18th Century Copyright Law

The lack of definition for the right of the author as the proprietor of his/her own works after being sold to a publisher means that the textual authority of later editions/printings cannot always be taken for granted.
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Guest Lecture Prof. Robert Darnton: A Report

On June 14th Professor Robert Darnton gave a guest lecture at the University of Utrecht, titled “Mlle Bonafon and the Private Life of Louis XV: Communication Networks in 18th-Century France”, which was announced on this weblog as well. I attended this lecture, and although it was very much focused on the (book)historical practice of the “libelle” and  “chronique scandaleuse”, some points were made that may be relevant or at least interesting from the point of view of socio-historical linguistics  and especially social network analysis.

In eighteenth-century France, with its widespread state censorship, people turned to alternative sources for news. News was in fact spread mainly through lower class women, servants, who went door-to-door to collect news and gossip for their mistresses, who then talked together about this news in their salons. News in eighteenth-century France can be thought of as spreading through social networks by means of what can be said to be peripheral members of these networks and was then spread by the early adopter, the central member of the network cluster, in her salon, to the other network members.

Lacking official news sources (the state-approved newspapers did not print any news worth talking about, nor did the newspapers printed abroad for the illegal French market) eighteenth-century French people got the news from what prof. Darnton termed public noise. Eighteenth-century scandalous publications (romans-a-clef and other censored books) and the public noise worked to reinforce each other. Gossip and popular literature at that time did not reveal what was actually happening, but what people perceived to be true. In a way eighteenth-century pre-revolutionary works can be said to be more than an accumulation of anecdotes; these publications are part of a greater narrative in which the texts can be seen as manifestations of the (discourse) community of eighteenth-century France.

print runs of 18thc grammar books

Could anyone help me find out how large print runs of books were in the eighteenth century?