Switch to English Switch to French

The Open University  |   Study at the OU  |   About the OU  |   Research at the OU  |   Search the OU

Listen to this page  |   Accessibility

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

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers
 
 
 
 

Record Number: 4310


Reading Experience:

Evidence:

'Ewan McColl remembered his father, a Communist ironfounder, as someone who was always giving him secondhand books. He "belonged to the generation who believed that books were tools that could open a lock which would free people..." At age eight McColl received the works of Darwin. By fifteen he had read Gogol, Dostoevsky and the entire Human Comedy: "They were a refuge from the horrors of the life around us... Unemployment in the 1930s was unbelievable, you really felt you'd never escape... So books for me were a kind of fantasy life... For me to go at the age of fourteen, to drop into the library and discover a book like Kant's Critique of Pure Reason or The Mistaken Subtlety of the Four-Sided Figure... the titles alone produced a kind of happiness in me... When I discovered Gogol in that abominable translation of Constance Garnett with those light blue bindings... I can remember the marvellous sensation of sitting in the library and opening the volume and going into that world of Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin in The Overcoat or in The Nose, or The Madman's Diary. I thought I'd never read anything so marvellous, and through books I was living in many worlds simultaneously. I was living in St Petersburg and in Paris with Balzac... And I knew all the characters, Lucien de Rubempre and Rastignac as though they were my own friends".'

Century:

1900-1945

Date:

unknown

Country:

n/a

Time

n/a

Place:

n/a

Type of Experience
(Reader):
 

silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Type of Experience
(Listener):
 

solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown


Reader / Listener / Reading Group:

Reader:

Ewan McColl

Age:

Child (0-17)

Gender:

Male

Date of Birth:

n/a

Socio-Economic Group:

Unknown/NA

Occupation:

n/a

Religion:

n/a

Country of Origin:

n/a

Country of Experience:

n/a

Listeners present if any:
e.g family, servants, friends

n/a


Additional Comments:

n/a



Text Being Read:

Author:

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Title:

n/a

Genre:

Fiction

Form of Text:

Print: Book

Publication Details

n/a

Provenance

owned


Source Information:

Record ID:

4310

Source:

Print

Author:

Jonathan Rose

Editor:

n/a

Title:

The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes

Place of Publication:

New Haven

Date of Publication:

2001

Vol:

n/a

Page:

316

Additional Comments:

n/a

Citation:

Jonathan Rose, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes, (New Haven, 2001), p. 316, http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/reading/UK/record_details.php?id=4310, accessed: 08 December 2021


Additional Comments:

See Ewan McColl, 'Theatre of Action', pp208-10 - no further ref traceable

   
   
Green Turtle Web Design