Cover

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pp. 1-3

Title

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pp. 4-4

Copyright

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pp. 5-7

Contents

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pp. 8-9

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Introduction

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pp. 1-5

As far as we can tell, we are the only species for whom the world seems to be made of stories. Biologically developed to be conscious of our existence, we treat our perceived identities and the identity of the world around us as if they required a literate decipherment, as if everything in the universe were represented in a code that we are supposed to learn and understand. ...

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1 The Reader as Traveler: Reading as Recognition of the World

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pp. 7-50

In the left margin of a fifteenth-century French manuscript,1 a small illumination serves as incipit for the text. It shows, against a dark blue sky studded with golden stars, a woman looking upon a baby child strapped to its cradle. The scene depicted is Moses in the bulrushes. The woman is Miriam, Moses’s sister, who convinces the Pharaoh’s daughter to have the child Moses nursed by a Jewish nurse; unbeknownst to the princess, the nurse is Jochebed, Moses’s mother. ...

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2 The Reader in the Ivory Tower: Reading as Alienation from the World

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pp. 51-88

In front of a cosy fire, a curled-up dog at his feet, a man in a green dressing gown sits in his reading chair, but he isn’t reading. His book lies closed on an adjacent wooden chest. His head, wrapped in a pink scarf for warmth and comfort, leans against a white pillow. His right hand holds his robe, his left hand is tucked inside, as if to keep warm or to feel the beatings of his heart. His eyes are shut, so that he does not see (or does not choose to see) the nun approaching him with a prayer book and a rosary. ...

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3 The Bookworm: The Reader as Inventor of the World

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pp. 89-109

At a table made of huge books laid flat and borne on legs of parchment scrolls, a wizened man with large spectacles turns the leaves of a thick book with his chin. He cannot use his hands: his body is cocooned in a sheaf of printed paper, poised ...

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Conclusion: Reading to Live

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pp. 111-120

Two and a half centuries after the publication of the first part of Don Quixote, Gustave Flaubert pursued the exploration of the reader as mediator between the perception of fiction and the perception of reality. The reader as traveler, the reader in the ivory tower, the reader as devourer of books, all appear in Flaubert’s works from his very earliest writings. The reader as ...

Notes

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pp. 121-135

Index

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pp. 137-141

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 143-152

Thanks to David McKnight and the board of the University of Pennsylvania for asking me to deliver the Rosenbach Lectures, which led me to write this book. Thanks to the several librarians at the Free Library, the Rosenbach Library, the University of Pennsylvania Library, and the Jewish Center Library of Philadelphia for their hospitality and generosity during my visit. ...