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ELT 48 : 1 2005 Although the nineteenth-century woman reader was an unstable site of dispute in her time, she seems to inspire only agreement today. Overall , Golden's study resoundingly affirms the claims of its predecessors, sometimes to its detriment. However, Golden makes a valuable contribution to scholarship on the woman reader in her attention to the visual—indeed, she might have done better to highlight images throughout, rather than save them for the last section. Images of the Woman Reader isn't likely to inspire any sense of surprise or revelation, but the reader will often nod in agreement. This is a useful companion work that offers a concise description of the trope of the woman reader along with evidence of its presence in major Victorian novels. By including American fiction along with British, Golden confirms the currency of these ideologies on both sides of the Atlantic. And by extending the theme to illustrations, she brings critical attention to a previously unexplored venue where the reading habit was debated in the nineteenth century. KATHERINE MALONE __________________ Temple University Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies Mary Wilson Carpenter. Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies: Women, Sexuality , and Religion in the Victorian Market. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003. xxii + 206 pp. $39.95 MARY WILSON CARPENTER'S Imperial Bibles, Domestic Bodies aims to map the history of the production and consumption of British Family Bibles. Family Bibles were a short-lived phenomenon which lasted only fifteen years but were a great commercial success. They first appeared in the early-eighteenth century in response to the legal restrictions placed upon English Bible printing. Publishers with a license were the only ones permitted to print the King James or Authorized Version of the Bible in Britain and its colonies. Publishers got round this legislation by producing Bibles with additional material such as notes and illustrations. These so-called Family Bibles allowed publishers to exploit a growing market for religious material in the eighteenth-century marketplace and to begin what Carpenter terms "the first large-scale inauguration of consumer Christianity." The differing construction of the purchaser by these Bibles suggests a hitherto unexplored "genealogy" of the British family, a genealogy that Carpenter teases out over the book. 82 BOOK REVIEWS Early Family Bibles were often published in parts and thus can be contextualized in the growing trend for serial and pamphlet publishing in the eighteenth century. Serial publication allowed publishers to reach a larger market of potential readers for whom books may have been too expensive. Carpenter's examination of Family Bibles reveals some striking changes in the way in which these texts attempted to construct "family values" over two centuries. Eighteenth-century Family Bibles made wild claims of promoting universal knowledge to their readers. The Complete British Family Bible (1782), for example, "avows the intent to publish a 'Plan of General Information, suited to such as wish to gain a PERFECT KNOWLEDGE of the DIVINE ORACLES.'" These Bibles were marketed to the paterfamilias who would share this "perfect knowledge" with the rest of his family. The possession of one of these Bibles would also enhance his social status as a gentleman. These early Family Bibles attracted their male purchasers in several ways. First, they highlighted the core "family values" of these male purchasers and reinforced their role as the natural authority of the household . Secondly, they appealed to his perhaps more risqué side by printing illustrations of 'Voluptuous Eves" and other biblical women such as Judith holding the head of the slain Holofernes. As Carpenter points out, though, biblical women like Judith are transgressors of the typical female domestic type represented by Noah's wife, who willingly clean up after the animals on the ark. By contrast, pictorial representations of Eve and Judith reflect the fear that women who "by divine right, ought to belong to their Adam, but [who] might turn on him with deadly intent." The universal knowledge of the eighteenth-century Family Bible is replaced, Carpenter notes, in the early nineteenth century by a desire to control the information given to the family. Clergyman editors marked up the text in order to indicate to the (male) head of the household what was suitable...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 82-85
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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