Getting at the Author: Reimagining Books and Reading in the Age of American Realism

Getting at the Author: Reimagining Books and Reading in the Age of American Realism

by Barbara Hochman
     
 

ISBN-10: 1558492879

ISBN-13: 9781558492875

Pub. Date: 04/23/2001

Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press

Throughout the nineteenth century, American readers and reviewers assumed that a book revealed its author's individuality, that the experience of reading was a kind of conversation with the writer. Yet as Barbara Hochman shows in this illuminating study, the emergence of literary realism at the turn of the century called such assumptions into question. The realist…  See more details below

Overview

Throughout the nineteenth century, American readers and reviewers assumed that a book revealed its author's individuality, that the experience of reading was a kind of conversation with the writer. Yet as Barbara Hochman shows in this illuminating study, the emergence of literary realism at the turn of the century called such assumptions into question. The realist aesthetic of narrative "objectivity" challenged the notion that a literary text reflects its author's personality.

But reading practices were slow to change; many resisted the effort to reconceptualize the relationship among writers, readers, and books. Even the most consistent advocates of "impartial" narration found it difficult to imagine a book without an author or to dissociate the experience of reading from the idea of a reciprocal human transaction.

In analyzing the battle over realism and the gradual shift in conventional reading practices, Hochman draws on a rich array of sources, including popular works, advertisements, and letters. She combines traditional modes of literary inquiry with methods adapted from the new historicism, cultural studies, and book history. By elucidating the realists' ambivalence about their own aesthetic criteria, she shows how a late-nineteenth-century conflict about reading practices reflected pressing tensions in American culture, and how that conflict shaped criteria of literary value for most of the twentieth century.

About the Author:
Barbara Hochman is senior lecturer, Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558492875
Publisher:
University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date:
04/23/2001
Series:
Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Reimagining Books and Reading in the Age of American Realism1
Ch. 1Reading for the Author: "Friendly Reading" in Nineteenth-Century America11
Ch. 2The Erosion of "Friendly" Reading: The Realist Challenge29
Ch. 3Refusing Authorial Self-effacement: Popular Fictions at the Turn of the Century48
Ch. 4The Return of the Author: The Realist Writer as a Woman Onstage70
Ch. 5Getting at the Hidden Author in the Text93
Afterword117
Notes123
Works Cited165
Index181

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