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Private book collections

As far as possible, private collections will have to be consulted – in the wake of Daniel Mornet’s groundbreaking article “Les enseignements des bibliothèques privées (1750-1780)”, in which he sought to draw up lists, on the basis of private French library catalogues, of the best-sellers of the 18th century. Mornet’s work continues to find emulators and to inspire new research for a number of reasons: not only did he introduce a welcome new instrument – analysis of (a corpus of) library auction catalogues – to literary reception studies, but he also helped to shift scholarly attention from writers to readers, from the producers of literature to its consumers. With the bourgeoning both of the new discipline of book history, with its interest in forbidden and/or forgotten best-sellers, and of feminist literary scholarship, which not infrequently studies the very authors Mornet helped to unearth (an obvious example is Françoise de Graffigny, the most popular novelist in Mornet’s sample), Mornet’s own influence seems set to last well into the 21st century.






  • Daniel Mornet, “Les enseignements des bibliothèques privées (1750-1780)”, in Revue d’Histoire Littéraire de la France 18 (1910), p. 449-496.
  • Alicia C. Montoya, “French and English women writers in Dutch library (auction) catalogues, 1700-1800. Some methodological considerations and preliminary results”, in S. van Dijk, Petra Broomans, Janet F. van der Meulen and Pim van Oostrum (eds.), “I have heard about you”. Foreign women’s writing crossing the Dutch border: from Sappho to Selma Lagerlöf. Hilversum: Verloren, 2004, p. 182-216.

Alicia C. Montoya, August 2004
See article mentioned for details and conclusions.

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  • Sources > Dutch sources > Private collections

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