Cover

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Title page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface: A Discovery and Serendipitous Journeys

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pp. ix-xiv

The seeds of this research project lie in the collector’s instinct. Having spent years researching the religious writing and devotional culture of the Middle Ages, I developed an additional interest in collecting early printed editions of medieval religious and mystical writers, primarily from England. These small-scale...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvi

Parts of chapters 2 and 4 have appeared as articles, and I want to thank the journal editors for allowing me to use this material. “’Laboring in my Books’: A Religious Reader in Nineteenth Century New Hampshire” appeared in Library: Transactions of the Bibliographical Society 13, no. 2 (2012): 185–204...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-21

Early in the morning on Tuesday, the seventh of January, 1890, Thomas Connary—an Irish immigrant farmer living in the town of Stratford, New Hampshire—sits down in his study to read in one of his most treasured books, the Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love by the medieval English mystic Julian of...

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Chapter 1: Irish American Print Culture in the Nineteenth Century: A Private Library

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pp. 22-39

This chapter provides an overview of the books in the library of Thomas Connary, purchased, read, and annotated by him in the United States in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The focus will be on him as a member of the Irish expatriate in America and, especially, on the underexplored part of...

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EPIPHANY: “Seeing Very Plainly”

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pp. 40-41

Th omas Connary witnessed something remarkable in Stratford on Tuesday, January 17, 1888.
Read my words of description of the Blessed and Holy Virgin Mother and her Blessed and Holy Company as I saw them very plainly, in this, my own house, on the 17th, of January in the year 1888. . . . I will now...

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Chapter 2: “Laboring in My Books”: Thomas Connary’s Book Enhancements

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pp. 42-83

The collection of Irish American literature surveyed in the previous chapter motivates Thomas Connary to be at his most creative as he decorates and annotates individual books in complex ways, making them the portable signifiers of his own religious identity. One question that needs to be addressed...

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EPIPHANY: The Lamp

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pp. 84-85

“Now I say read my Diary page for November 23 last, when in my bed early in the evening here, I plainly saw in one of my hands a lamp of fire burning. I put the fire out moderately as a lamp—I found no lamp to put away: it was gone. No dream in this reality be sure.” This brief account, dated Sunday...

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Chapter 3: Redemptive Reading in the Connary Household

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pp. 86-117

Thomas Connary attaches a particularly rich array of meaning and utility to his books. Books are understood as commodities that can be traded, as gift objects to and from family and friends, as repositories for documentation and miscellaneous reference, as manuals or catechetic instruments for personal and...

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EPIPHANY: The Road to Lancaster

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pp. 118-120

The following account is dated May 16, 1883, and it is part of an eight-page cluster of notes inserted in The Sinner’s Guide between pages 202 and 203; Connary suggests elsewhere that the event referred to occurred in the mid-1860s.
I had full power to know positively continually what our Divine Creator...

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Chapter 4: The Farmer’s Treasure: Thomas Connary Reading St. Francis of Sales and Julian of Norwich

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pp. 121-149

The library of Thomas Connary reflects the continuity of a centuries-long tradition of Catholic spiritual writing. Th is chapter examines Connary’s attentive reading and enhancement of two classic texts, the Revelations of Julian of Norwich and St. Francis of Sales’s Spiritual Conferences, which form part of a...

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EPIPHANY: “No Priest or Bishop in this Church but Himself Alone”

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pp. 150-152

I plainly saw Him as a very firmly built strong man, but perhaps less than five feet eight inches in height apparently, purely noble in every respect, hair and beard long and white, fully dressed in every respect as infinitely perfect heavenly high priest last night, walking in a firmly built...

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Chapter 5: Book Keeping, Longing, and Besetment

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pp. 153-182

Thomas Connary was insane. His recorded condition was not stated with further diagnostic precision, but it was official. The United States census records of 1870 and 1880, in the section that registers “whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict,” note “insane” next to Connary’s...

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Epilogue: Rome Unvisited

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pp. 183-188

For our farmer-bibliophile, the very culmination of the spiritual life is found in the freedom, originality, and passion with which the discipline of “laboring in my Books” is pursued. Through this discipline he enters into dialogue with his religious works and occupies part of the same experiential space as the...

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Appendix: The Contents of Thomas Connary’s Library

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pp. 189-200

No catalogue exists of the full contents of Thomas Connary’s library. To reconstruct the collection requires the painstaking detective work of piecing together references to individual titles that are found on literally hundreds of Connary’s handwritten pages inserted into those of his books I have been able to examine. The task of providing an...

Notes

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pp. 201-216

Bibliography

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pp. 217-224

Index

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pp. 225-228

Series Page

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Back Cover

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