Multiple Authorship and the Myth of Solitary Genius

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This is a study of the collaborative creation behind literary works that are usually considered to be written by a single author. Although most theories of interpretation and editing depend on a concept of single authorship, many works are actually developed by more than one author. Stillinger examines case histories from Keats, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Mill, and T.S. Eliot, as well as from American fiction, plays, and films, demonstrating that multiple authorship is a widespread phenomenon. He shows that the reality of how an author produces a work is often more complex than is expressed in the romantic notion of the author as solitary genius. The cumulative evidence revealed in this engaging study indicates that collaboration deserves to be included in any account of authorial achievement.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is see the case against 'genius' or authorial autonomy made in so straightforwardly empirical a fashion, with a good editor's characteristic fidelity to awkward particulars."—Times Literary Supplement

"Makes a valuable contribution to ongoing debates on interpretation....Stillinger's book should open up fruitful lines of research and investigation."—Studies in the Novel

"Jack Stillinger has written a remarkable book. It ought to have a wrenching effect on literary criticism and its practitioners."—Journal of English and Germanic Philology

"It is the major achievement of Stillinger's book to detail the facts of multiple authorship that we have been either too blind to see or too prisoned in our romantic myth of authorship to acknowledge....A clear theory of multiplicity relies upon such scholarly identification of authors and versions as Stillinger himself has so brilliantly exemplified."—Wordsworth Circle

"Authoritative scholarly study - balanced, readable, knowledgeable, skillfully argued, and soundly documented."—Studies in Romanticism

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195068610
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/28/1991
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.81 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Table of Contents

1 What Is an Author? 3
2 Keats and His Helpers: The Multiple Authorship of Isabella 25
3 Who Wrote J. S. Mill's Autobiography? 50
4 Multiple "Consciousnesses" in Wordsworth's Prelude 69
5 Creative Plagiarism: The Case of Coleridge 96
6 Pound's Waste Land 121
7 American Novels: Authors, Agents, Editors, Publishers 139
8 Plays and Films: Authors, Auteurs, Autres 163
9 Implications for Theory 182
Appendix Multiple Authorship from Homer to Ann Beattie 203
Notes 215
Index 245
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