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Literature and the Marketplace: Romantic Writers and Their Audiences in Great Britain and the United States

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Literature and the Marketplace addresses one of the great ironies of nineteenth-century British and American literature: the fact that authors of that era, in voicing their alienation from middle-class readers, paradoxically gave expression to feelings of alienation felt by those same readers. As William G. Rowland Jr. points out, romantic writers “thought of the market as conspiring against ‘imagination’ (Blake) or ‘telling the truth’ (Melville)” and consequently felt frustrated with literary institutions. Yet their “frustrations,” writes Rowland, “helped to energize romantic work and explain its subsequent and continuing appeal.”

The book opens with a survey of reading publics in Great Britain and the United States in the early years of the nineteenth century. Rowland then presents individual writers—including Wordsworth, Shelley, Hawthorne, Poe, and Emerson—and their relations to their readers. Finally, Rowland shows how the idea of genius was developed by writers as different as Coleridge, Blake, Whitman, and Dickinson and how that idea evolved as an antidote to the commercial literary marketplace of the nineteenth century.

A wide-ranging and provocative book, Literature and the Marketplace describes the relations between important British and American authors and the audiences and publishing industries of their era—relations that were troubled, uncertain, and remarkably productive of literature.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803239180
  • Publisher: UNP - Nebraska
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 5.83 (w) x 8.83 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

William G. Rowland Jr. is the Director of Studies at Hereford Residential College, University of Virginia. This is his first book.
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Table of Contents

Preface: Current Interest in Audience
Introduction: The Romantic Response to Mass Society 1
1 The Anglo-American Literary Profession in the Nineteenth Century 17
2 Wordsworth and the Difficulty of "Speaking to Men" 39
3 Religious Vocation and Blake's Obscurity 63
4 Private Poet, Public Man: Shelley and Romantic Self-Division 88
5 Romantic Conceptions of the Writer in Hawthorne and Poe 111
6 Emerson as a Cultural Spokesman 123
7 Melville as a Professional Writer 145
8 Romantic Genius and Literary Production in the Nineteenth Century 173
Conclusion: Romantic Letters to the World 187
Notes 195
Works Cited 209
Index 221
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