By Ana-Isabel Aliaga-Buchenau
The improvement of a mass readership, a mass marketplace for books and the fashionable prestige of analyzing and readers is mirrored within the important position of literacy, interpreting and books within the lives of protagonists in nineteenth-century American and French literature. during this e-book, Ana-Isabel Aliaga-Buchenau examines the destabilizing function of examining within the works of Frederick Douglass, Horatio Alger, Emile Zola, Louisa could Alcott and Gustave Flaubert. This publication - the 1st to check nineteenth-century protagonists throughout traces of nationality, type and gender - demonstrates the empowering results of examining for Douglass, Alger's Ragged Dick, Zola's Etienne, Alcott's Jo and Flaubert's Emma.
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Extra info for The Dangerous Potential of Reading: Readers & the Negotiation of Power in Selected Nineteenth-Century Narratives (Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory)
Neither of them attends school, although, Dick had once gone to school for two days. Instead, they learn through self-education, Douglass in the shipyard and Dick as a newspaper boy. In addition, both pay for their instruction. Douglass pays young white children with bread, and Dick offers Henry Fosdick—a fellow bootblack—a place to sleep in his own boarding house room in exchange for instruction in reading, writing, grammar, geography, and arithmetic. Like Frank, Henry Fosdick is also a middleclass agent because his status as bootblack—and a rather unsuccessful one—is due to the death of his middle-class father which left him destitute.
What is more, it ultimately leads to a destabilization of accepted norms because a slave manages to rise from his position and to flee from slavery. Douglass’s story does not end with his flight. It is important to note that the literacy he has acquired keeps serving him positively. He moves to New Bedford, where he does all kinds of work. It is only when he is “discovered” as a speaker at the 1841 anti-slavery convention in Nantucket that the real value of literacy becomes evident. Douglass is an excellent speaker with much rhetorical power, gained perhaps from the Columbian Orator among other texts.
Whereas Douglass celebrates the destabilizing power of reading and shows that reading enlarged and structured his consciousness which ultimately made it possible for him to escape slavery and to question the social system of the south, Alger does the opposite. He does not critique the system of middle-class dominance but rather participates in it and reaffirms it. In addition, he does not allow reading to have any power that might enlarge the hero’s consciousness. Instead, he contains that danger by preaching middle-class values and showing that those who would become dangerous if they received an education are innately too bad to even have the chance.
The Dangerous Potential of Reading: Readers & the Negotiation of Power in Selected Nineteenth-Century Narratives (Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory) by Ana-Isabel Aliaga-Buchenau