Simon Reader’s Notework is as much about the literary-critical reading of notes as it is about the writing of them. The book takes aim at two scholarly misconceptions about writers’ notebooks: first, that these notebooks—more specifically, the “notework” of notations and notes in them—can be understood only as precursors to finished literary genres; and second, that notes are fundamentally private documents. Notework challenges these assumptions by refusing a developmentalist account of literary form: notations, notes, and notebooks, Reader argues, need to be understood as comprising their own genre “of equal importance to the novel, poem, drama, or essay” (2). In making this claim, Reader uncovers a formal practice that has much more in common with the Romantic fragment or modernist poetics than with the staid forms often associated with Victorian realism. There is a key ethical corollary to this project: in reading notations, Reader locates a counterpoint to the progressive...
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Book Review| March 01 2023
Notework: Victorian Literature and Nonlinear Style
Notework: Victorian Literature and Nonlinear Style. By Simon Reader.
Stanford University Press,
2021. ix + 238 pp.
Modern Language Quarterly (2023) 84 (1): 81–83.
Sierra Eckert; Notework: Victorian Literature and Nonlinear Style. Modern Language Quarterly 1 March 2023; 84 (1): 81–83. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-10189234
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