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Moving ImagesNineteenth-Century Reading and Screen Practices$
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Helen Groth

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748669486

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748669486.001.0001

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Moving Books in Regency London

Moving Books in Regency London

(p.22) Chapter 1 Moving Books in Regency London
Moving Images

Helen Groth

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines the dynamic media environment of Regency London through the lens of three very different convergences between literary and visual media. The first, Jane and Ann Taylor’s Signor Topsy-Turvy’s Wonderful Magic Lantern emanates from a network of writers that channelled Lockean models of the mind into experimental visual and textual interactions. The second example, Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington’s The Magic Lantern; or, Sketches of Scenes in the Metropolis (1823) enlists the fluid dissolve of one lantern slide into the next to materialise the associative flow of reverie as she wanders through Regency London’s various attractions. The third example is Pierce Egan’s playful alignment of reading and looking through a camera obscura in The True History of Tom and Jerry; or The Day and Night Scenes, of Life in London (1821). Recalling reading Egan as a child, William Makepeace Thackeray described Life in London as an invitation to let his mind wander through the long-gone diversions of Regency London, this chapter reconsiders this response alongside Blessington’s Magic Lantern in the context of an emerging psychological preoccupation with the involuntary aspects of reading, viewing and the mind’s dynamic generation of moving images in states of reverie or dreaming.

Keywords:   Magic lanterns, Regency Reading Practices, Nineteen Century Literature, Visual Culture, Media History, The Psychology of Reading

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