‘Eene zeer Aanzienlijke verzameling Boeken’ | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
2004
Volume 62, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1876-9071
  • E-ISSN: 2214-5729

Abstract

Abstract (English)

This article proposes a comparative analysis of a corpus of 173 catalogues of private libraries sold during the period 1790 – 1830 in the Netherlands, France, and the British Isles, which have been made searchable in an Open Access database, MEDIATE. The library catalogues demonstrate the existence of an integrated, transnational literary system in which Dutch, French and British readers largely consumed the same works and authors. Alongside Latin, French remained the central language in the European language system, and relations between (semi-)peripheral regions often passed through French as an intermediate language. Works by German- and English-speaking authors, which were mostly read in the Dutch Republic in (French) translation, could thus paradoxically further strengthen the central position of French. The library auction catalogues further confirm the view that Dutch readers were more open toward the outer world, as reflected by their avid consumption of travel literature, than readers elsewhere. At the same time, library auction catalogues add to our understanding of the positioning of the Netherlands in the European literary polysystem. Because library auction catalogues drew on eighteenth-century ideals surrounding both cultural and economic capital, they provide a rich, layered picture of the various, interlocking elements in the European literary system.

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