Reading, in the Victorian and Edwardian period, as now, was an activity through which women could become aware of the simultaneity of the sensations of difference and of similarity. Reading provided the means not only, on occasion, for the Victorian woman to abnegate the self; to withdraw into the passivity induced by the opiate of fiction. Far more excitingly, it allowed her to assert her sense of selfhood, and to know that she was not alone in doing so. The variety of evidence put forward in this book demonstrates that despite the recurrence of certain stereotypes throughout the period, and the way in which these stereotypes functioned to determine attitudes about reading in the home, in education, and in the provision of public library facilities which would serve a growing number of readers, individuals frequently read across the grain of such expectations.
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