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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

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Listings for Reader:  

Anna Larpent


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William Mason : Caractacus

'[opinion of William Mason's play, "Caractacus", entered in diary]: 'My soul melted into every pleasing sensation, the language charming! divine harmony, beams in every line such a love of virtue! such examples of piety, resignation and fortitude! raise the soul to an ecstatic height. Sweet Evelinda how my heart throbbed for her!'.

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


James Thomson : Edward and Elinora

[opinion of Thomson's Edward and Elinora, entered in diary]: 'A most affecting tale, pleasingly tender - fraught with virtuous sentiments.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      


John Locke : Essay on human understanding

'I returned home and read four chapters of Winn's abridgement of Lock[e] on the human understanding. The transition from such a dissipate scene [a party she has left] to the deep reflection of my study [...] was easier than I expected: how much more was I pleased with myself whilst thus exercising the faculties of a reasonable mind, in endeavouring to discover the sources of those faculties, to form them properly; to improve them, than when I was dipping a curtsey to one, forcing a smile for another, hearing nonsense from a 3rd or what is worse talking nonsense to a fourth.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


James Mackintosh : Vindiciae Galliciae

[note in diary upon finishing Mackintosh's "Vindiciae Gallicae"]: 'As far as I am a Judge I think this work very well understood. The author is master on his subject & has the art of rendering others. HE is not scurrilous. He argues well, he seldom begs the question. He narrates what has passed in France, traces causes with precision - perhaps he speaks too strongly in the latter part. I gained much information from his work.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Lord Monboddo : Of the origin and progress of language

'I went through that extraordinary work of Lord Monboddo on the "Origin of Language". I was entertained and instructed from the singularity of the system, the many erroneous and yet plausible arguments on which it is founded, the infinite display of learning. A mind wedded to antiquity is the source together with a strong imagination easily biased from Credulity, of the principles offered in this work. I should apprehend the criticisms to be good in many parts... There is too much classical learning in it to allow me to form a Judgement of it, as a learned work. Indeed it is not to be supposed I understood it in a followed manner [.] Yet I never throw aside a book because it makes me feel an ignorance I am not ashamed of from its being one belonging to my Sphere as a female. I read on and often reap much information from the mere introduction to scholars.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


 : Les mille et une nuits

'Staying at a house in Kings Thorpe, Northamptonshire in 1780, Anna began reading "Les milles et une nuits" after a conversation about imaginative literature with the Bishop of Llandaff. He "recommended the Reading these Arabian inventions as lively pictures of the government, religion, manners, prejudices of the eastern nations, & further talked on them as genuine translations from the Arabic. I own I was entertained with them in this light."'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


 : [sermons]

'Though Anna studied pious works almost constantly, she almost never commented in her diary on her religious reading ... Anna's daily examination of the scriptures or of a religious work was a private act of self scrutiny intended to strengthen her moral resolve and Christian faith... It was not a subject for polite conversation, like so much other material... In the 1790s she was still reading the sermons that she had first encountered twenty years earlier. In short, she conformed to the model of the isolated, absorbed, individual reader, cut off from the world by her immersion in the text.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Daniel Defoe : Tour through the whole island of Great Britain

'She used passages from Defoe's "Tour through the whole island of Great Britain" to prepare her two boys for a visit to Windsor Castle in 1792: "I did it", she wrote, "that they might have their observation raised when we carried them there. There is a great difference between showing and seeing - the one is merely Corporeal the other unites the mental to the bodily powers and lays in a stock of ideas". [reading aloud for didactic purposes].

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Ramsay : a dialogue on taste

[We then read aloud a dialogue on taste by Mr Ramsay, a lively original book with some entertaining and instructive remarks on the progress of those arts that seem particularly to call forth the exertion to taste. I pointed out this, to carry on the pursuit in her mind though on a wholly different principle. Cozens forms beauties by mathematical Rules: reduces all to a regular, invariable System. Ramsay makes beauty the mere result of opinion in different persons, & consequently varying with the various persons he admits of no other standard for taste; the comparisons this difference of opinion drew and the observations that arose, the Books it led us to consult, gave us much amusing conversation.' [reading in turn with her pupil and sister Clara].

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Thomas Paine : Rights of man

'On 9 April 1792 Anna Margaretta Larpent rose at 7.30, a little earlier than her usual, "spent some time", as she described it, '"n self examination", and then read two chapters of that blistering critique of the British constitution, Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man", before sitting down to breakfast.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Joseph Priestley : On the origin of government

'In October 1792... the Larpents were reading Joseph Priestley on "The origin of government" "rather to lead conversation and observation than as a followed reading".'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Sarah Trimmer : Sacred history

'In a ritual that was to be repeated throughout the holidays, Anna and John [her son] read passages from an instructive and improving work, Sarah Trimmer's sacred history, a didactic anthology from the scriptures written by the best-selling pious evangelical.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Sutherland : Tour of Constantinople

'Larpent listened while her husband and stepson read aloud to her from the newspapers and Sutherland's "Tour of Constantinople".'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: stepson of Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Pierre Marivaux : Marienne

'While her friends were engaged in different sorts of women's work... she read them a great favourite, the sentimental novel "Marienne" by Pierre Marivaux.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Samuel Richardson : Clarissa

'In the month of April 1792... Anna read Richardson's "Clarissa" for the second time - "the style is prolix, the manners obsolete, & I felt fidgeted at the repetitions not being 15, yet surely it is wonderfully wrought."'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Thomas Holcroft : Anna St Ives

'A novel by Thomas Holcroft, "Anna St Ives", dismissed as "sad stuff I cannot read on".'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


William Smellie : Philosophy of Natural History

[in April 1792 Larpent read] 'Smellie's "Philosophy of Nature" [sic] which she considered poorly organized but of sufficient value to transcribe extracts for her children.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


various : various

'Anna Larpent's diary mentions over 440 titles, including forty-six English novels (She preferred those by women or works of sentimental fiction); twenty-two French works of fiction, including Rousseau, Marivaux, Marmontel and Voltaire; Italian imaginative literature, especially Goldoni and Netastasio; thirty-six French plays, notably those of Corneille; thirty-eight English plays, especially Shakespeare; more than sixty works on history, biography and social science, including Gibbon, Hume, Raynall, Rollin, Giucciardini, Adam Smith, Monboddo and Ferguson; sixteen books of natural philosophy, notably Fontenelle, Smellie, Goldsmith and the entire literature of the South Sea voyages; belles-lettres and criticism to the tune of forty-five volumes, among them Pope, Johnson, Boileau, Du Bos, Swift and Chesterfield; twenty-seven works of classics in translation, with Plutarch, Seneca, Virgil and Cicero as special favourites; a baker's dozen of advice books; forty-six collections of sermons and works of piety chiefly from latitudinarian divines but also from high churchmen and papists; the English poetic classics Spenser, Milton, Gay, Pope, Thomson, Young and Gray - as well as a smaller body of travel literature and miscellaneous work that is difficult to identify.'

Century: 1700-1799 / 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Hannah More : Percy

'The story of Percy is simple, pathetic, distressing, this worked up to the most moving height of distress; the power of virtue on the mind is well contrasted with the mad way of passion, Elwina's is an almost perfect character... A pure love of virtue appearing throughout and filling the virtuous heart with glowing pleasure... the struggle in Elwina's mind between love and duty is fine, the triumph of the latter nobly painted. There is a charming delicacy, and elevation of sentiment.' [opinion of More's "Percy" entered in diary].

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


Charlotte Smith : Desmond

'With a fine imagination and command of Language Charlotte Smith cannot write without Interest [.] this is an odd work. She introduces in a prettily wrought novel the more early French troubles in consequence of the Revolution, she is a wild leveller. She defends the revolution, she writes with the enthusiasm of a woman and a poetess. Her story is hurried [,] has faults in the conduct and narrative, yet it interests. Her descriptions are very pleasing and her characteristic conversations are somewhat forced. She writes herself out. yet her genius predominates.' [opinion of "Desmond", entered in diary].

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Larpent      Print: Book


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