The Literary Market
Author: Geoffrey Turnovsky
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
A central theme in the history of Old Regime authorship highlights the opportunities offered by a growing book trade to writers seeking to free themselves from patrons and live "by the pen." Accounts of this passage from patronage to market have explored in far greater detail the opportunities themselves—the rising sums paid by publishers and the progression of laws protecting literary property—than how and why writers would have seized on them, no doubt because the choice to do so has seemed an obvious or natural one for writers assumed to prefer economic self-sufficiency over elite protection. In The Literary Market, Geoffrey Turnovsky claims that there was nothing obvious or natural about the choice. Writers had been involved in commercial book publication since the earliest days of the printing press, yet had not necessarily linked these activities with their freedom to think and write. The association of autonomy and professionalism was forged, not given. Analyzing the literary market as a key articulation of the association, Turnovsky explores how in eighteenth-century polemics a rhetoric of commercial authorship came to signify independence for intellectuals. He finds the roots of the connection not in the claims of entrepreneurial writers to rights and income but in a world to which that of the modern author has been contrasted: the aristocratic culture of the seventeenth century. Aristocratic culture, he argues, generated a disparaging view of the professional author as one defined by activities tainting him or her as greedy and arrogant and therefore unworthy of protection and socially isolated. The Literary Market examines the story of the "birth of the author" in terms of the revalorization of this negative trope in Enlightenment-era debates about the radically changing role of writers in society.
This book examines literary authorship in the twentieth century and covers such topics as publishing, book distribution, the trade editor, the literary agent, the magazine market, subsidiary rights, and the blockbuster mentality.
Using the lens of business history to contextualize the development of an American literary tradition, Truth Stranger than Fiction shows how African American literature and culture greatly influenced the development of realism, which remains one of the most significant genres of writing in the United States. More specifically, Truth Stranger than Fiction traces the influences of generic conventions popularized in slave narratives - such as the use of authenticating details, as well as dialect, and a frank treatment of the human body - in later realist writings. As it unfolds, Truth Stranger than Fiction poses and explores a set of questions about the shifting relationship between literature and culture in the United States from 1830-1930 by focusing on the evolving trend of literary realism. Beginning with the question, 'How might slave narratives - heralded as the first indigenous literature by Theodore Parker - have influenced the development of American Literature?' the book develops connections between an emerging literary marketplace, the rise of the professional writer, and literary realism.
Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, most Americans "heard" rather than "read" national history. They absorbed lessons from the past more readily by attending Patriots' Day orations and anniversary commemorations than by reading expensive, multivolume works of patrician historians. By the 1840s, however, innovations in publishing led to the marketing of inexpensive, mass-produced "popular" histories that had a profound influence on historical literacy and learning in the United States. In this book, Gregory M. Pfitzer charts the rise and fall of this genre, demonstrating how and why it was born, flourished, and then became unpopular over time. Pfitzer begins by exploring how the emergence of a new literary marketplace in the mid-nineteenth century affected the study of history in America. Publishers of popular works hoped to benefit from economies of scale by selling large numbers of inexpensive books at small profit. They hired authors with substantial literary reputations to make the past accessible to middle-class readers. The ability to write effectively for wide audiences was the only qualification for those who dominated this field. Privileging narration and effusive literary style over dispassionate prose, these artists adapted their favorite fictional and poetic conventions with an ease that suggests the degree to which history was viewed as literary art in the nineteenth century. Beginning as a small cottage industry, popular histories sold in the hundreds of thousands by the 1890s. In an effort to illuminate the cultural conditions for this boom, Pfitzer focuses on the business of book making and book promotion. He analyzes the subscription sales techniques of book agents as well as the aggressive prepublication advertising campaigns of the publishers, including the pictorial embellishments they employed as marketing devices. He also examines the reactions of professional historians who rejected the fictionalizing and poetic tendencies of popular history, which they equated with loose and undisciplined scholarship. Pfitzer explains how and why these professionals succeeded in challenging the authority of popular histories, and what the subsequent "unpopularity of popular history" meant for book culture and the study of history in the twentieth century.
The Difficult Art of Giving
Author: Francesca Sawaya
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
The Difficult Art of Giving rethinks standard economic histories of the literary marketplace. Traditionally, American literary histories maintain that the post-Civil War period marked the transition from a system of elite patronage and genteel amateurism to what is described as the free literary market and an era of self-supporting professionalism. These histories assert that the market helped to democratize literary production and consumption, enabling writers to sustain themselves without the need for private sponsorship. By contrast, Francesca Sawaya demonstrates the continuing importance of patronage and the new significance of corporate-based philanthropy for cultural production in the United States in the postbellum and modern periods. Focusing on Henry James, William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, and Theodore Dreiser, Sawaya explores the notions of a free market in cultural goods and the autonomy of the author. Building on debates in the history of the emotions, the history and sociology of philanthropy, feminist theory, and the new economic criticism, Sawaya examines these major writers' careers as well as their rich and complex representations of the economic world. Their work, she argues, demonstrates that patronage and corporate-based philanthropy helped construct the putatively free market in literature. The book thereby highlights the social and economic interventions that shape markets, challenging old and contemporary forms of free market fundamentalism.
Combining analysis with detailed accounts of authors' careers and the global trade in literature, this book assesses how postcolonial writers respond to their own reception and niche positioning, parading their exotic otherness to metropolitan audiences, within a global marketplace.
Reviewing the South
Author: Sarah Gardner
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
The American South received increased attention from national commentators during the interwar era. Beginning in the 1920s, the proliferation of daily book columns and Sunday book supplements in newspapers reflected a growing audience of educated readers and its demand for books and book reviews. This period of intensified scrutiny coincided with a boom in the publishing industry, which, in turn, encouraged newspapers to pay greater attention to the world of books. Reviewing the South shows how northern critics were as much involved in the Southern Literary Renaissance as Southern authors and critics. Southern writing, Gardner argues, served as a litmus to gauge Southern exceptionalism. For critics and their readers, nothing less than the region's ability to contribute to the vibrancy and growth of the nation was at stake.
How do genres develop? In what ways do they reflect changing political and cultural trends? What do they tell us about the motivations of publishers and readers? Combining close readings and formal analysis with a sociology of literary institutions and markets, Minor Characters Have Their Day offers a compelling new approach to genre study and contemporary fiction. Focusing on the booming genre of books that transform minor characters from canonical literary texts into the protagonists of new works, Jeremy Rosen makes broader claims about the state of contemporary fiction, the strategies of the publishing industry over recent decades, and the function of literary characters. Rosen traces the recent surge in "minor-character elaboration" to the late 1960s and works such as Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. These early examples often recover the voices of marginalized individuals and groups. As the genre has exploded between the 1980s and the present, with novels about Ahab's wife, Huck Finn's father, and Mr. Dalloway, it has begun to embody the neoliberal commitments of subjective experience, individual expression, and agency. Eventually, large-scale publishers capitalized on the genre as a way to appeal to educated audiences aware of the prestige of the classics and to draw in identity-based niche markets. Rosen's conclusion ties the understudied evolution of minor-character elaboration to the theory of literary character.
Though the field of book history has long been divided into discrete national histories, books have seldom been as respectful of national borders as the historians who study them—least of all in the age of Enlightenment when French books reached readers throughout Europe. In this erudite and engagingly written study, Jeffrey Freedman examines one of the most important axes of the transnational book trade in Enlightenment Europe: the circulation of French books between France and the German-speaking lands. Focusing on the critical role of book dealers as cultural intermediaries, he follows French books through each stage of their journey—from the French-language printing shops where they were produced, to the wholesale book fairs in Leipzig, to retail book shops at locations scattered widely throughout Germany. At some of those locations, authorities reacted with alarm to the spread of French books, burning works of the radical French Enlightenment and punishing the booksellers who sold them. But officials had little power to curtail their circulation: the political fragmentation of the German lands made it virtually impossible to police the book trade. Largely unimpeded by censorship, French books circulated more freely in Germany than in the absolutist monarchy of France. In comparison, the flow of German books into the French market was negligible—an asymmetry that corresponded to the hierarchy of languages in Enlightenment Europe. But publishers in Switzerland produced French translations of German books. By means of title changes, creative editing, and mendacious advertising, the Swiss publishers adapted works of the German Enlightenment for an audience of French-readers that stretched from Dublin to Moscow. An innovative contribution to both the history of the book and the transnational study of the Enlightenment, Freedman's work tells a story of crucial importance to understanding the circulation of texts in an age in which the concept of World Literature had not yet been invented, but the phenomenon already existed.
Indian Writing in English and the Global Literary Market delves into the influences and pressures of the marketplace on this genre, contending that it has been both a gatekeeper and a significant force in shaping the production and consumption of this literature. As well as providing case studies of selected contemporary Indian novels in English and comparing how diasporic authors fare compared to authors within India, this volume also provides theoretical insights into the postcolonial framework in which the global literary marketplace is embedded, and comments on the exoticization and marketing strategies adopted as a result.
Figures of Speech
Author: R. Jackson Wilson
Examines a phase in the history of the relationship between writers and the literary marketplace. Looks at 5 Americans -- Benjamin Franklin, Washington Irving, William Lloyd Garrison, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Emily Dickinson -- for whom writing was the primary vocation. They wrote for people whose overriding interest was commerce and economic development, but this same audience insisted that what counted as Culture had to be "spiritual." Shows how the writers had to come to terms with the tension between their own ambitions and their efforts to produce a portrait of the artist as someone for whom money and fame didn't count. Illustrated.
Prior to the Civil War, publishing in America underwent a transformation from a genteel artisan trade supported by civic patronage and religious groups to a thriving, cut-throat national industry propelled by profit. Literary Dollars and Social Sense represents an important chapter in the historical experience of print culture, it illuminates the phenomenon of amateur writing and delineates the access points of the emerging mass market for print for distributors consumers and writers. It challenges the conventional assumptions that the literary public had little trouble embracing the new literary marketing that emerged at mid-century. The book uncover the tensions that author's faced between literature's role in the traditional moral economy and the lure of literary dollars for personal gain and fame. This book marks an important example in how scholars understand and conduct research in American literature.
Author: Ignacio M. Sanchez Prado
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Strategic Occidentalism examines the transformation, in both aesthetics and infrastructure, of Mexican fiction since the late 1970s. During this time a framework has emerged characterized by the corporatization of publishing, a frictional relationship between Mexican literature and global book markets, and the desire of Mexican writers to break from dominant models of national culture. In the course of this analysis, Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado engages with theories of world literature, proposing that “world literature” is a construction produced at various levels, including the national, that must be studied from its material conditions of production in specific sites. In particular, he argues that Mexican writers have engaged in a “strategic Occidentalism” in which their idiosyncratic connections with world literature have responded to dynamics different from those identified by world-systems or diffusionist theorists. Strategic Occidentalism identifies three scenes in which a cosmopolitan aesthetics in Mexican world literature has been produced: Sergio Pitol’s translation of Eastern European and marginal British modernist literature; the emergence of the Crack group as a polemic against the legacies of magical realism; and the challenges of writers like Carmen Boullosa, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Ana García Bergua to the roles traditionally assigned to Latin American writers in world literature.