Još od antičkih vremena, a osobito nakon otkrića tiska, mnogi su pisci, pedagozi, crkveni ljudi i drugi čuvari javnoga ćudoređa ukazivali na loš utjecaj koji djela koja su smatrana moralno neprihvatljivima imaju na čitatelje. Kada su se potkraj 18. i u prvoj polovini 19. stoljeća dogodile diljem Srednje i Zapadne Europe intenzivne promjene na području kulture pisane riječi i čitanja, upozorenja o štetnosti čitanja takvih knjiga intenzivirala su se. S novìnama na knjižarskom tržištu te novim čitateljskim trendovima, koje su mnogi dočekali s velikim zazorom, vjerujući da čovjeka mogu lako skrenuti s puta vjere, poticati ga na nemoral, zlo i neposluh, u dodir dolazi i hrvatsko čitateljstvo, dakako, ono obrazovano. Smatrajući svojom dužnošću vođenje računa o moralu svojih građana, odnosno vjernika, crkveni su autoriteti i priznati pedagozi toga vremena držali iznimno važnim razvijati, usmjeravati i oblikovati njihove čitateljske navike, namjeravajući ih tako držati u okvirima prihvatljivoga moralnog ponašanja, ali i lojalnosti i poslušnosti. U središtu su pozornosti ovoga rada preporuke za čitanje kojima se, i to ponajprije mladima, željelo ukazati na ono što (i kako) bi valjalo čitati, a što bi svakako trebalo izbjegavati. Istraživački korpus čine knjige i časopisi tiskani u nas tijekom 19. stoljeća, koji su navedenim preporukama obilovali.
Throughout the entire history, especially after the invention of printing machine, many writers, pedagogues, clerics and other keepers of public morality emphasized a bad influence of some morally doubtful writings – particularly lascivious and erotic literature. Moreover, even quite benign love lyrics or love literature in general that had some impact on readers was often under keepers' scope. The late eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century was a period marked by an intensive change regarding reading culture, and consequently number of keepers' warnings increased. Namely, during this period not only the number of readers increased but also topics of their interest became more heterogeneous and similarly social importance of reading started to grow. Consequently, on the contemporary library market emerged many new literary genres that attracted wide circle of new readers. Moreover, some new »modern« forms of reading occurred, and soon
after the first public libraries have been opened. All this provoked anxiety of ecclesiastical authorities, who were concerned because of decrease of morality, distancing from spiritual values and purity of belief, and secularization and dechristianisation of society. Moreover, trend of reconsideration and examination of the Church authority, including educational values (i.e. pedagogues’ authority) led towards even bigger distance from traditional moral values. Although such literary changes hit realm of Croatia much latter, and though Croatia at that time predominately still was impregnated with oral culture, civil and ecclesiastical authorities were aware that educated readers, who were mostly si tuated in urban areas and therefore possible influence of new reading habits could not have any broader impact, followed all the novelties on the library market. Therefore, authorities
tried through censorship and suggested guidelines to form and shape reading habits of believers and citizens, and – at the same time – to keep them within acceptable moral framework that led towards loyalty and obedience. Thus, author of this article analyzed
recommendations that were mostly addressed to young people, especially girls, because it was considered that they could be most affected by these new reading trends. Authors of such recommendations were members of ecclesiastical circles and some respectable pedagogues of that time were among them. Recommendations that could be found in various contemporary publications – such as devotional booklets, catechism, breviaries, spelling books etc. – promoted reading of spiritual and moral didactical literature, but also some itineraries, biographies, historical, geographical and natural sciences’ studies. Moreover, they encouraged collective reading in family circle or in ecclesiastical community because in this way keepers of morality could control reception of the read word, and such reading was considered as »healthy«, »useful« or »rational« reading. On the other hand, young
people were advised not to read not only atheistic and heretic literature but also to avoid any »shameless and immoral« literature that could lead them towards sinful behavior. Such recommendations basically targeted love novels, which were at that time considered
as morally and socially inappropriate. The reason for such attitude towards love novels was fact that such literature was usually read in privacy without any mediator, which could allow reader to build up some critical viewpoint regarding the read text and to think
about it. Although such above mentioned recommendations did shape reading habits of youth to some extent, basically did not achieve their goal to prevent reading of inadequate literature. This can be concluded from the fact that such forbidden literature was read, in spite of all the authorities’ efforts.