How Reading Made Us Modern

Feb 24, 2009 by

I’m almost weeping with frustration over missing BBC4’s How Reading Made Us Modern, but this well-written post by freelance translator and editor Lucinda Byatt nicely rounds up some of the facts, looking at the 18th century as ‘the start of the modern age of reading in a free-thinking society’, with particular reference to the rise of the novel and its impact on women.

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  1. Merinitta

    Thank you for the link. I wish I could have watched the show.

  2. Lucinda Byatt

    Thanks for mentioning this. I really enjoyed the programme and hope it might be repeated sometime so you can catch it.

  3. Mrs Woffington

    Thanks for your comments ladies! Really enjoyed your post, Lucinda, it really got me thinking about how the Licensing Act made radical changes to the literary landscape; in many ways the opposite was happening with the censorship of live performance, and this explains why there was so little innovation in writing for the theatre. Must keep a close eye on possible repeats!

  4. Eliza Ward

    Hmm… that’s what I learned in university, too, but I just don’t want to believe it. It doesn’t give my poor Puritans enough credit. Of course I’d give them credit for the invention of the automobile if I could!

  5. Mrs Woffington

    Reminds me of the story of Smock Alley theatre in Dublin (one of the Wof’s haunts) which suffered twice from its galleries collapsing and had to be entirely rebuilt in 1735. After one of these incidents (which resulted in loss of life), some claimed to have seen a figure with hooves dancing before the footlights – proof, it any were needed, that the theatre was a sinful place!