The First Ever Novel Readings Book Giveaway!

When I put up my last post, I realized that it was #899 – making this my 900th post at Novel Readings. That seemed like a milestone that ought to be recognized with something a bit out of the ordinary! But what? As I was musing about options, I remembered that not long ago I had contemplated holding a book giveaway for my anthology, The Victorian Art of Fiction, to put a more positive spin on its rather sluggish sales. (OK, “sluggish” is putting it nicely: my last royalty statement shows it selling -3 copies in Canada!) Clearly this is the perfect opportunity for just such a special event. It can also double as my way of celebrating World Book Day!


Lest the sorry story of my book’s recent sales makes you skeptical that you even want a free copy, let me tell you just a little bit about it. (You can also read more about it at Wuthering Expectations, where once upon a time it was the book of the week!) It’s actually the project I was working on in 2007 during the same sabbatical that I launched this blog, making it the perfect prize for this occasion. (The first person to joke that “second prize is two copies” is banned from Novel Readings forever.)  I had been reading quite a lot of Victorian essays about and reviews of fiction — partly because I was asking questions about the kind of criticism we do and how it sometimes seemed to me to fit the primary sources uncomfortably. I wanted to get a better sense of the contemporary conversation into which the Victorian novels actually emerged. I found this material fascinating but also diffuse, and I thought a collection of the choicest examples would be a nice thing to make available, for interested readers as well as for students and teachers of the history of criticism; happily, Broadview Press agreed.

My introduction to the volume that resulted sums up some key themes across the various readings as well as what seemed to me some notable and thought-provoking differences between the way they did criticism then and the way we do it now. But the real fun is in the essays themselves. There are some that are canonical (as far as that concept can even be applied to 19th-century essays about the novel): George Eliot’s “Silly Novels By Lady Novelists,” for instance, and Henry James’s “The Art of Fiction.” There are some by writers whose names are certainly familiar to readers of Victorian fiction: Margaret Oliphant’s “Modern Novelists – Great and Small,” or Anthony Trollope’s “Novel Reading.” There are some by people who, though not widely known today, were major critical or intellectual figures at the time: David Masson’s “Thackeray and Dickens” or Walter Bagehot’s “The Novels of George Eliot.” There are essays on “lady novelists,” sensation fiction, and the morality of fiction; there are discussions of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë by writers including George Henry Lewes and Leslie Stephen. The essays are perceptive, idiosyncratic, sometimes puzzling, often surprising, and occasionally profound. Above all, they reflect a common conviction that fiction is an art form worth talking about, which is a feeling I think is likely to be shared by anyone stopping by a blog called Novel Readings.

So here’s the plan. If you’d like a chance at a free copy of this elegant, entertaining, and edifying volume, just say so in the comments below, in the next 24 hours (it’s 10:00 a.m. Atlantic time here in frosty Halifax, so that will be the cut-off time tomorrow). As an extra incentive, I will also include a pretty bookmark in an appropriately bookish pattern made by a local paper artist! Then I’ll put all (both? the only?) names in a hat and Maddie will draw out one winner. I’ll identify the winner in the comments and invite him or her to contact me by email to sort out mailing information. (With regret, after looking at international shipping rates on Canada Post, I do have to limit this offer to US, Canadian, and UK addresses only. Maybe for my 1000th post I’ll go completely global.)

I hope someone is interested. If it turns out that I can’t even give copies of the book away, just think how depressed I’ll be: what could be sadder than so much ardent labour all in vain? And so, as James says in the exuberant conclusion to “The Art of Fiction,” go in!

UPDATE: It’s heartening to see so much interest in the book! I wish I could send everyone a copy – but I can’t. The ‘contest’ is now closed. I promised Maddie she could do the actual drawing, so it will have to wait until after work. Then I’ll make the big announcement of the winner. Thanks to everyone for joining in!


34 Comments to The First Ever Novel Readings Book Giveaway!

  1. March 6, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Put me down — I would love a copy of this (it could come in handy the next time I teach one of my “Brit Lit II” surveys).

  2. March 6, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    It’s a good book! People should clamor for it. What seem like – and I guess are – unrelated pieces end up telling a story. Spoiler alert: fiction wins!

    I would love to read a sequel.

  3. Graham Christian's Gravatar Graham Christian
    March 6, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I’d love to be considered–Mrs Oliphant forever!

  4. Dorian Stuber's Gravatar Dorian Stuber
    March 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Count me in (to the hat).

    As someone who wonders if he will reach 9 posts, let alone 900, I am impressed by your dedication!

  5. Bill Walker's Gravatar Bill Walker
    March 6, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Would enjoy receiving a copy! Enjoy the blog.

  6. March 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Rohan, I’m so happy to know about the book! Somehow I had missed hearing about it. It sounds delightful and very much my cup of tea.

  7. Caleb Land's Gravatar Caleb Land
    March 6, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I would love to receive a copy. Thanks for the hard work and excellent blog.

  8. Morgana's Gravatar Morgana
    March 6, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I’d love a copy as well! The vagaries of academic publishing notwithstanding, it sounds very interesting.

  9. March 6, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Fine print: Employees, agents, representatives, or affiliates of Novel Readings, its affiliates, and their immediate family members and household members are not eligible to participate.

  10. March 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Oh no! What about former PhD students? Do we count as affiliates? I hope not, because I want to win a copy.

  11. Ken Bugajski's Gravatar Ken Bugajski
    March 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I’d love a copy–I’ll be using Eliot’s essay in a class next fall! 🙂

  12. Janet Brush's Gravatar Janet Brush
    March 6, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Anyone who loves Victorian literature should want this book. I certainly do.

  13. March 6, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    three cheers for good books + names in hats. throw mine in!

    by the by, love following you on twitter : )

  14. March 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations on post 900! Woo hoo! I’d love a chance to win a copy of your book! 🙂

  15. March 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Count me in!!

  16. RT's Gravatar RT
    March 6, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Let me be ironic — if that is the correct word here, which I doubt: As a university instructor on the Gulf coast of the U.S., I would rather buy the book (which will help your purchase totals and royalties) or request an exam copy (which will not help your purchase totals and royalties), but if you cannot settle upon anyone else as the most worthy adoptive owner of your book, then feel free to include me in the contest. Who knows? I might even find a way of making it a required text in a future course. That is, of course, if I can overcome the apparent fact of life that I am being forced into early retirement at the end of this semester. And I am still so young. I’m only 68.

  17. March 6, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Count me in! 🙂

  18. Susan in TX's Gravatar Susan in TX
    March 6, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Count me in as well. The tulips are gorgeous, btw. Almost makes me feel spring really will come (and we haven’t been nearly as “vortexed” as y’all have up there!).

  19. March 6, 2014 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    That’s my kind of academic press. That’s my kind of book. I have just purchased a copy, so you don’t need to enter me in the drawing. Happy 900th post!

  20. Kala Hirtle's Gravatar Kala Hirtle
    March 6, 2014 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    This book sounds amazing and would really help my comps studying! I love your blog (I’ve been reading it since you were writing about my undergrad classes!) and would love to be considered for a copy. 🙂

  21. March 6, 2014 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    This sounds great. I’m in a Bronte/Eliot mood lately.

  22. Elizabeth W.'s Gravatar Elizabeth W.
    March 6, 2014 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad a book like this exists to help historicize the kind of work literary critics do now. I’d love to have a copy!

  23. March 6, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    I’d love to get a copy!

  24. Kellie's Gravatar Kellie
    March 6, 2014 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    I’ve already purchased your book, and it’s very good, so this is just a plug and a word of encouragement! Whoever wins is really very lucky indeed.

  25. March 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    I would love to have a copy of your book. This is still one of my favorite literary blogs. I always feel assured when i come here. Always impressed with the quality of the posts. Congrats on the milestone. And thanks for the work you do.

  26. Trev Broughton's Gravatar Trev Broughton
    March 7, 2014 at 3:43 am | Permalink

    I’m a fan of your history-writing book and would love one of these. But anyway, courage! I see my -3 royalty statements as a warning against luxurious living.

  27. Anita's Gravatar Anita
    March 7, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I would LOVE a copy! Oh, and I love your blog — thank you!

  28. March 7, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    I would love a copy of this!

  29. March 13, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    best announcement ever! good work, Maddie 🙂

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