W. M. Thackeray and the Mediated Text: Writing for Periodicals in the Mid-Nineteenth Centuryby Richard Pearson
Thackeray's `minor writings' remain caught in a debate about what constitutes Literature and whether magazine writing an journalism might be constructed as such. this debate was present during the inception of the mass periodical press in the 1830s when Thackeray began his career, and forms part of the context of an reasoning within, and techniques of Thackeray's work. Throughout his career Thackeray was enmeshed in critical arguments about periodicals, novels, 'realism', and commercialism. he was himself both (and neither) journalist and literary artist and was at once a product of and critical of emerging writing practices. This book argues that an understanding of Thackeray's writings for periodicals and the literary and commercial context of these is central to an understanding of his literary achievement. Focusing principally on the foundational part of his career from 1833 until 1847, but relating this to the novels, particularly Pendennis and The Adventures of Philip, and the Cornhill Magazine of the 1860s, the book explores Thackeray's ambiguous response to the burgeoning periodical press, and considers his negotiation and critique of the marketplace through a variety of publishing media. Chapters cover a wide range of texts, from a single magazine such as The National Standard (which Thackeray owned, edited and contributed to), to a collection of essays such as The Paris Sketch-Book, to the editorial address for the Cornhill Magazine. Further the book uses Thackeray's writings as a springboard for wider theoretical discussions of the study of nineteenth-century periodicals. Presenting also in appendices, some new attributions to the Thackeray canon, this book is a valuablereappraisal of a writer central to the transformation of the man-of-letters into the professional wordsmith of the Victorian age. Thackeray was the most self-aware writer of his age, engaged in an elaborate investigation of the powers of the `media' to shape and influence the nature and reception of the `text'. This study examines the process of `meditation', the layers created between author and reader in the new media age, which plays a central role in the production of meaning and ambivalence in Thackeray's work.
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