Reade Research Interests

My notes feel rather scattered at the moment–I’ll do my best  to elucidate them a bit. While reading through the archive materials, I was struck by several things: Reade’s distinctly visual organization system, the reliance on newspapers as the dominant, the use of abbreviation and abridging, the practice of “accounting” (in both sense of the word), and the role of advertisements. I’ve attempted to frame these into three main research questions:

Research Question 1: How do we read the materiality of Reade’s notes and how do the notes work as a dialogic entity?

Reading the transcript, it’s incredibly difficult to get a sense of where the notes were in relation to each other. The one facsimile Bankson includes in his transcript, the Dickeybirdiana card, shows how wildly spread across the page and interestingly arranged Reade’s notes are, and these kinds of spatial dynamics add a whole other dimension to the heteroglossia we find in the notes; I plan to take plenty of notes myself on the visual appearance of the notecards.

Notecards of particular interest:

Mat. Fict.
B. Dickeybirdiana
The Horrible Story – includes numerous letters to the editor on the case of unjustly imprisoned Richard Porter and others.

I’d also like to look at how Reade represents his research practice in the notecards and in the “Duodecimo digest” and how the notebooks, visually, compare to the notecards.

Research Question 2a: How does Reade research and represent newspapers, advertisers, and periodicals?

I’d like to investigate how the novel and Reade’s extra-textual materials (notecards, notebooks, etc) use the form of the advertisement to index reality. Bankson notes that Reade compiled many of his booklists from “publisher’s advertisments” (Bankson v), like James Rimell’s “Small Books on Great Subjects” (232). Likewise, The Morning Advertiser, or the ‘Tiser plays a significant role in Hard Cash both as reference and as elements in the story itself – as Edward Dodd’s go-to source of information.

Items of interest:

Duodecimo Digest 2
The Practical Advertiser

Research Question 2b: Abridging and Abbreviation – How does Reade’s writing take on the form of the advertisement?

In addition to examining how Reade references newspapers, periodicals and advertisements, I’m also interested in seeing how the form manifests within the Hard Cash notes and Hard Cash itself.   Like the periodicals from which Reade gleaned much of his research, my copy Hard Cash is laid out in columns, the prefatory material organized with headers, and the text itself is filled with editorial paratext, drawings, segments of musical stanzas and other examples of heterogeneous forms.

Beyond just visually, advertisements-language bleeds into Reade’s writing. We see a few examples of the abbreviated words and sentence of in Hard Cash, in the form of in the legal and financial sections, and, most notably, in the “personal ad” dialogue between Julia and Alfred” –which includes snippets of advertisements like this:

Julia took the paper, and her eye fell on this short advertisement:

–but use of abbreviation is, perhaps obviously, in his notes. Many of the notes in “Mat. Fict.” are relating to slang, colloquialisms, abbreviations and common language. Looking at the transcript Reade’s notecard on slang, I noticed that even the title itself,  “Mat. Fict.” is an abbreviation (perhaps for “Material Fiction” or “Materials for Fiction”). Given Reade’s project – a “matter-of-fact-romance”– and his critical attention to “slang” and “household words”– this pervasive presence of “abbreviated” reality seems worth parsing out.

I would like to look at the ways in which Reade’s work both takes on the compressed, compact language of advertisements  while also, potentially playing the form “ad” – is it a public, economic message or a personal message. While Reade’s notes are often indexical references to other texts or objects, or verbatim transcripts, they include very personal, idiosyncratic as well. Next to one couplet about a fire dog that he had clipped, he writes, “Forgot to use this – like an ass.” (Bankson 65). This kind of editorial account on his “scientific” practices, demonstrates the same combination of “matter-of-fact” documentation and personal commentary that I mentioned above.

As a side note, I’m also interested in the relationship between the relationship between the American edition, Very Hard Cash and the original Hard Cash. Though the time constraint will not allow for any sort of in depth look at how much and what, specifically, was cut to form the shorter American edition, I would definitely like to a very cursory examination of how abridging and cutting appeared on a larger scale in the print history of Hard Cash as a whole.

Finally, on a note somewhat related to economics and print culture:

Research Question 3: How does Reade’s archive interact with and represent the documentation practices of the economic sphere? 

We’ve seen Trollope and Oliphant discuss rather openly and extensively how their writing is a labor and financially significant endeavor. Given Reade’s background in law and business (Bankson iv) and the role that written documentation plays in the financial scandal, I am interested to look at Reade’s discussion of the economic side of his work, as well as his note-taking practices on his own financial records.

Items of interest:

Reade’s bank passbook

I’m interested in seeing how  Reade’s documentation and “scientific”  archival practices here might reveal a kind of research/writing/documenting as praxis and explore a new space in the writing life vs. living life  dichotomy we encountered thus far.