Women, Accounting and Narrative: Keeping Books in by Rebecca Connor

By Rebecca Connor

Within the early eighteenth century, the family accountant used to be commonly girl. besides the fact that, simply as girls have been obvious as monetary accountants, they have been additionally deeply linked to the literary and narrative accounting inherent in letters and diaries. those are tested along estate, originality and the advance of the early novel.

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Put another way, the memorandum book, especially in the ladies’ diaries, serves as displaced memory. Bear in mind, incidentally, that autobiography as a genre didn’t develop until the early nineteenth century; the older genre of memoir, of which the memorandum book is one kind, anticipates the problem of what is chosen to be remembered. It also emphasizes the fact that all books, in some way, replace memory. In a literate culture, memory must be written down to be preserved. Diary of a not-so-mad housewife 1111 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1011 1 2 3111 4 5 6 7 8 9 20111 1 2 3 4 5111 6 7 8 9 30111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40111 1 2 3 4 45111 41 Curiously, there seems to be a degree of feminizing in the word “memorandum” in the eighteenth century.

And Alexander Malcolm, the self-assured – and very present – author of A Treatise on Book-keeping, writes: I have called Book-keeping an Art; and very justly, because, like other Arts, it has its Object, about which it treats, its End, to which it tends; and its Principles, and Rules, by which the End is obtained. The Object is, in general, the Transaction of ones Affairs, in particular, the making a regular Account or History of them, in order to this End, viz. 77 The use of “History” in this context is arresting in its hinted need for a stabilizing narrative.

Yet the buried metaphor is that of book as mirror. This is, of course, a very old trope, as in A Mirror for Magistrates (1559), The Merchants Mirrour (1656), and other similarly titled volumes. One looks in a mirror not only to see oneself but to correct oneself. 24) One sees one’s faults and self-corrects; the text becomes a narcissistic fantasy of self-magnification and moral gloss. In The Ladies’ Compleat Pocket Book, “looking into” thus implies internal as well as external vision; the term suggests seeing one’s reflection so truly that one can remedy one’s faults.

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