Economy of Literary Form: English Literature and the Industrialization of Publishing, 1800-1850

Overview

In the first half of the nineteenth century, technological developments in printing led to the industrialization of English publishing, made books and periodicals affordable to many new readers, and changed the market for literature. In The Economy of Literature Lee Erickson analyzes the effect on literary form as authors and publishers responded to the new demands of a rapidly expanding literary marketplace.

These developments, Erickson argues, offer a new understanding of the ...

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Overview

In the first half of the nineteenth century, technological developments in printing led to the industrialization of English publishing, made books and periodicals affordable to many new readers, and changed the market for literature. In The Economy of Literature Lee Erickson analyzes the effect on literary form as authors and publishers responded to the new demands of a rapidly expanding literary marketplace.

These developments, Erickson argues, offer a new understanding of the differences between Romantic and Victorian literature. As publishing became more profitable, authors became able to devote themselves more professionally to their writing. The changing market for literature also affected the relative cultural status of literary forms. As poetry became less profitable, it became hard to publish. As periodicals grew in popularity, essays became the center of reviews, and their authors the arbiters of culture. The novel, which had long sold chiefly to circulating libraries, found an outlet in magazine serialization — and novelists discovered a new popular audience.

With chapters on William Wordsworth, Thomas Carlyle, and Jane Austen, as well as on specific literary genres, The Economy of Literary Form provides a significant new synthesis of recent publishing history which helps to explain the differences and continuities between Romantic and Victorian literature. It will be of interest not only to literary critics and historians but also to bibliographic historians, cultural or economic historians, and all who have an interest in the commercialization of English publishing in the nineteenth century.

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Editorial Reviews

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Erickson (English, Marshall U., West Virginia) analyzes the effects of a changing market on the relative cultural status of literary forms. Topics include the impact of technological changes in printing on English poetry; ideological focus and the market for the essay; and marketing the novel, 1820-1850. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801863585
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/2000
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.94 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Lee Erickson is associate professor of English at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. He is the author of Robert Browning: His Poetry and His Audience.

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Marginal Utility of Literary Form 3
Ch. 1 The Poets' Corner: The Impact of Technological Changes in Printing on English Poetry 19
Ch. 2 The Egoism of Authorship: Wordsworth's Poetic Career 49
Ch. 3 Ideological Focus and the Market for the Essay 71
Ch. 4 Carlyle's Old Clothes Philosophy: The Material Form of Literature 104
Ch. 5 The Economy of Novel Reading: Jane Austen and the Circulating Library 125
Ch. 6 Marketing the Novel, 1820-1850 142
Conclusion: Traffic in the Heart: English Literature in the Publishing Market 170
Bibliography 191
Index 209
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