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Wilkie Collins and Copyright

Artistic Ownership in the Age of the Borderless Word

Sundeep Bisla

Publication Year: 2013

In the works and letters of his later years, Wilkie Collins continually expressed his displeasure over copyright violations. Wilkie Collins and Copyright: Artistic Ownership in the Age of the Borderless Word by Sundeep Bisla asks whether that discontent might not also have affected the composition of Collins’s major early works of the 1850s and 60s. Bisla’s investigation into this question, surprisingly, does not find an uncomplicated author uncomplicatedly launched on a defense of what he believes to be rightfully his. Instead, Bisla finds an author locked in fierce negotiation with the theoretical underpinnings of his medium, the written word, underpinnings best delineated by the twentieth-century deconstructionist Jacques Derrida. Collins’s discomfort with copyright violation comes to be in tension with his budding understanding of the paradoxical nature of the “iterability” of the word, a nature presenting itself as a conflict between the settling and breaking manifestations of linguistic repetition. In his efforts at resolving this paradox, Collins adopts a mechanism of recursive self-reflexivity through which each story reflects upon itself to a more fundamental extent than had its predecessor. This self-reflexive exploration has significant consequences for the author’s own iterability-menaced subjectivity, a striking example of which can be seen in the fact that the name being sought in Collins’s last masterpiece, The Moonstone, will end up being “MY OWN NAME”—in other words, “WILKIE COLLINS.”

Published by: The Ohio State University Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-4

Wilkie Collins and copyright : artistic ownership in the age of the borderless word / Sundeep Bisla.Collins, Wilkie, 1824?1889?Criticism and interpretation. 2. Intellectual property in literature. 3. Intellectual property?History?19th century. 4. Copyright?History?19th century. I. Title.The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences?Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials. ANSI ...

Table of Contents

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pp. vi-5

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pp. vii-viii

...graduate Research Award, and Overseas Postgraduate Research Scholar-ship funded by the University of Sydney and the Government of Australia allowed me the time to complete the research and early drafting of this study. A semester?s research leave from the City University of New York Many friends and colleagues encouraged me along the way. Colleagues ...

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Preface: A Spot of Ink, More Than a Spot of Bother

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pp. ix-xx

...the begInnIng of a project of long duration?and this project, having occupied its author for over a decade, would certainly qualify as such?is often difficult to conclusively determine. Nevertheless, even now I can still clearly recall the moment I first became conscious of its subject, the author Wilkie Collins. While an undergraduate at Harvard I would occasionally ...

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1. Introduction: Wilkie Collins, Theorist of Iterability

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pp. 1-54

...sIgns of It are everywhere?the author?s relationship to the text is not a comfortably controlled one. Whole disciplines have been founded on this obvious proposition?certain strains of literary criticism and theory being not the least among these?as well as on its denial. The history of literary criticism is littered with battles fought along these lines, with Emp-...

Part 1. The Fictions of Settling

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pp. 55-74

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2. The Manuscript as Writer's Estate in Basil

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pp. 56-108

The main contention of this chapter?that in Basil (1852) Collins attempts to equate the author?s manuscript with land?is not an earth-shaking propo-sition, to say the least. However, this equation becomes much more sugges-tive when it is placed within the broader contexts of Collins?s own and his intellectual culture?s development. Viewed from, for example, the position ...

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3. The Woman in White: The Perils of Attempting to Discipline the Transatlantic, Transhistorical Narrative

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pp. 109-179

If existence were a case of, so to speak, history ?all the way down,? purely historical analysis (even that more than pure branch focusing on local histo-ries known as ?history written from the bottom up?) might offer its practi-tioners some hope of its living up to its advanced billing. However, despite Of the mistakes occasioned by the appearance of a picture bearing so strong a kin-...

Part 2. The Fictions of Breaking

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pp. 180-181

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4. Overdoing Things with Words in 1862: Pretense and Plain Truth in No Name

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pp. 182-218

Collins is most often remembered as a writer of sensation novels, thrillers, and mysteries, alarming styles of writing generally understood?as a result of the ?brow? with which they are most commonly associated?to be tied firmly to their particular historical milieu. However, it is my contention in this study that his major fictions are to be illuminated more by investigations ...

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5. Ingesting the Other in Armadale

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pp. 219-238

The sensation novel reinforced a particular fear of the English populace. The dread of the possibility of the invasion of the Homeland by the Other while of course not originating with the genre was nevertheless buoyed up by it. This worry is evident in an anonymous reviewer?s description of sen-sation fiction, in a review of No Name in the Reader in 1863, as ?a plant ...

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6. The Return of the Author: Privacy, Publication, the Mystery Novel, and The Moonstone

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pp. 239-269

AlwAys already involved in a struggle between a purportedly stable self and a potentially unstable self-in-language?a struggle set going by the act of clothing oneself in linguistic form?the English author in the mid-nine-teenth century also faced the unenviable task of attempting to negotiate a different conflict, that between the opposed roles he or she was being ...

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Conclusion: Real Absences: Collins's Waiting Shadows

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pp. 270-275

A study as devoted as is this one to the topic of iterability should not be shy about committing that writerly indiscretion of repeating itself, that is, of re-citing passages. Here I will be doing so not in the attempt to reinforce a particular ?lesson??as teachers of the various traditions know well, repeti-tion is not without its inherent usefulness?but rather in an attempt to note ...


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pp. 276-295


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pp. 296-308

Back Cover

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p. 328-328

E-ISBN-13: 9780814271162
E-ISBN-10: 0814271162
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814212356
Print-ISBN-10: 0814212352

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2013