‘Books in my Hands — Books in my Heart — Books in my Brain’: Bibliomania, the Male Body, and Sensory Erotics in Late-Victorian Literature

  • Victoria Mills
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


Robert Browning’s The Ring and the Book (1868–9) documents a bibliophile’s delight in hunting down a book in a bustling Florence flea market. This ‘square old yellow book’ is a jealously guarded find. ‘Give it back!’ the poet commands, allowing the reader possession of the volume for a fleeting moment. The passage suggests a corporeal relationship between collector and object as the book bears traces of the body of its author (his ‘brains, high-blooded’), which transform it into a nostalgic object. Such nostalgia, far from being a ‘social disease’,2 has curative potential that is couched in terms of sensory experience, it is ‘restorative / I’ the touch and sight’.


Love Affair Sexual Inversion Genital Sense Private Paper Yellow Book 
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© Victoria Mills 2012

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  • Victoria Mills

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