Reading by Chance in a World of Wandering Texts

  • Alexander BubbEmail author
Part of the New Directions in Book History book series (NDBH)


This chapter focusses on a certain type of imperial encounter: that of the weary traveller or colonial servant who meets, unexpectedly, with a misplaced book. In the late nineteenth century, when cheap, ephemeral, often pirated editions were scattered worldwide, such encounters were a common enough occurrence. For the book’s discoverer however, often starved of reading matter in his or her colonial solitude, its appearance is invested with an air of serendipitous mystery. Sometimes the book may be an old favourite: a haunting relic of a lost Britain. Sometimes it is entirely unfamiliar, and can set its finder off on exciting tangents of cross-cultural thought. Drawing on examples from India, Australia, Malaya and North America, Bubb proposes randomness as a paradigm for studying imperial reading cultures.


Dissemination Random Imperial Encounter Dickens Piracy India Australia 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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