The Literary Market
Authorship and Modernity in the Old Regime
Publication Year: 2010
A central theme in the history of Old Regime authorship highlights the opportunities offered by a growing book trade to writers seeking to free themselves from patrons and live "by the pen." Accounts of this passage from patronage to market have explored in far greater detail the opportunities themselves—the rising sums paid by publishers and the progression of laws protecting literary property—than how and why writers would have seized on them, no doubt because the choice to do so has seemed an obvious or natural one for writers assumed to prefer economic self-sufficiency over elite protection.
In The Literary Market, Geoffrey Turnovsky claims that there was nothing obvious or natural about the choice. Writers had been involved in commercial book publication since the earliest days of the printing press, yet had not necessarily linked these activities with their freedom to think and write. The association of autonomy and professionalism was forged, not given. Analyzing the literary market as a key articulation of the association, Turnovsky explores how in eighteenth-century polemics a rhetoric of commercial authorship came to signify independence for intellectuals. He finds the roots of the connection not in the claims of entrepreneurial writers to rights and income but in a world to which that of the modern author has been contrasted: the aristocratic culture of the seventeenth century. Aristocratic culture, he argues, generated a disparaging view of the professional author as one defined by activities tainting him or her as greedy and arrogant and therefore unworthy of protection and socially isolated. The Literary Market examines the story of the "birth of the author" in terms of the revalorization of this negative trope in Enlightenment-era debates about the radically changing role of writers in society.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
Series: Material Texts
Two brief and understated anecdotes can frame this study. They illustrate the ambiguities that will be at the core of my account of the “modernization” of intellectual identities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, particularly to the degree that this book explores the historical process of the “birth of the modern author” in light of continuities with ...
PART I: WRITING, PUBLISHING, AND LITERARY IDENTITY IN THE "PREHISTORY OF DROIT D'AUTEUR"
INTRODUCTION: THE STORY OF A TRANSITION: WHEN AND HOW DID WRITERS BECOME "MODERN"?
The “literary market” has been a key concept in accounts of cultural and literary practices in Old Regime France, particularly for studies of the author as a “modern” principle of intellectual coherence and legitimacy. In these accounts, the birth of the author is predicated on the writer’s growing independence from early modern political, social, and cultural institutions, which for their part are presumed to inhibit the sincere, personal expression ...
1. LITERARY COMMERCE IN THE AGE OF HONN
The investigation into writers and the book trade in the early modern period has traditionally presented an exercise in the excavation of origins, driven by the effort to unearth “primitive” instances of what would later develop as standard behavior for writers in the commercial publishing sphere. In his survey of the economic, social, and political realities defined by the printed book in seventeenth-century Paris, Henri-Jean Martin ...
PART II: THE LITERARY MARKET: THE MAKING OF A MODERN CULTURAL FIELD
INTRODUCTION: RECONSIDERING THE ALTERNATIVE
Accounts of the literary market in the eighteenth century have typically hinged on the struggles of writers to support themselves in what David Pottinger characterized as the “primitive business conditions of the ancien régime.”1 Specifically, this history accentuates two key movements: first, the intensification of writers’ struggles for economic “independence,” which sparks a growing consciousness of their “rights” to payments from ...
3. "LIVING BY THE PEN": MYTHOLOGIES OF MODERN AUTHORIAL AUTONOMY
One especially poignant evocation of the passage into an alternative field lies in the image of “living by the pen.” The motif recurs in historical writing as a shorthand reference to the escape of writers from patronage into the freedom of the market.1 The reality itself—of Old Regime writers supporting themselves from publishing income—has, however, proven difficult to ascertain, and scholars narrating the transition have found ...
4. ECONOMIC CLAIMS AND LEGAL BATTLES: WRITERS TURN TO THE MARKET
As an institution of literary life, the market normally enters into the purview of historical analysis in one of two ways: either as envisioned through the entrepreneurial moves of writers who wake up to their “real” interests as authors and, repudiating their ties to patrons, stake claims to the economic dues and legal rights in the book trade that will then allow them to become independent professionals, or as perceived through the ...
5. THE REALITY OF A NEW CULTURAL FIELD: THE CASE OF ROUSSEAU
This study has underscored the discursivity of writers’ engagements with the book trade, examining their efforts to “live by the pen” and their denunciations of “exploitation” in the commercial sphere as arguments for a new vision of intellectual legitimacy rather than as transparent accounts of their lived experiences dealing with publishers. I am not, however, suggesting by this emphasis that these experiences were not meaningful or indeed ...
This book has advanced two key arguments, contradictory at one level but in fact complementary. On one hand, it has reconsidered a traditional narrative emphasizing the development of the literary market as an alternative system representing a fundamental break with early modern intellectual culture. In this view, the market took shape fully exterior to the Old Regime literary field according to its own logic that, against the rigid, ...
This project has been a long time in the making, and would not have been possible without the generous intellectual and financial support of many individuals and institutions. It is with pleasure that I acknowledge them. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson has from the earliest stages offered her encouragement, interest, and exacting reading. My deepest thanks to her, as well as to Pierre Force and Andreas Huyssen. Many people have, over the ...
Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: Material Texts
Series Editor Byline: Series Editors: Roger Chartier, Joseph Farrell, Anthony Grafton, Leah Price, Peter Stallybrass, Michael F. Suarez, S.J. See more Books in this Series
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