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The Library: The Transactions of the Bibliographical Society

Vol. 7 (2006) through current issue

The Library is the journal of the Bibliographical Society. For more than a hundred years it has been the pre-eminent scholarly journal for the history of books, both manuscript and printed, and the role of books in history. All aspects of descriptive and historical bibliography come within its scope, including the general and economic history of the production and distribution of books, paper, printing types, illustration, and binding, as well as the transmission of texts and their authenticity. Each issue of The Library normally contains 100-115 pages, illustrated where necessary. Also included in each issue are reviews and lists of recent books and periodicals in the field. A comprehensive index is issued annually.

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Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism

Nicholas Mason

Literary Advertising and the Shaping of British Romanticism investigates the entwined histories of the advertising industry and the gradual commodification of literature over the course of the Romantic Century (1750–1850). In this well-written and detailed study, Nicholas Mason argues that the seemingly antagonistic arenas of marketing and literature share a common genealogy and, in many instances, even a symbiotic relationship. Drawing from archival materials such as publisher account books, merchant trade cards, and author letters, Mason traces the beginnings of many modern advertising methods—including product placement, limited-time offers, and journalistic puffery—to the British book trade during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Until now, Romantic scholars have not fully recognized advertising’s cultural significance or the importance of this period in the origins of modern advertising. Mason explores Lord Byron’s appropriation of branding, Letitia Elizabeth Landon’s experiments in visual marketing, and late-Romantic debates over advertising's claim to be a new branch of the literary arts. Mason uses the antics of Romantic-era advertising to illustrate the profound implications of commercial modernity, both in economic practices governing the book trade and, more broadly, in the development of the modern idea of literature.

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Myself and Some Other Being

Wordsworth and the Life Writing

Daniel Robinson

As a young writer with neither profession nor money, William Wordsworth committed himself to a career as a poet, embracing what he believed was his destiny. But even the “giant Wordsworth,” as his friend and collaborator Samuel Taylor Coleridge called him, had his doubts. In Myself and Some Other Being, Daniel Robinson presents a young Wordsworth, as ambitious and insecure as any writer starting out, who was trying to prove to himself that he could become the great poet he desired to be and that Coleridge, equally brilliant and insecure, believed he already was.

Myself and Some Other Being is the story of Wordsworth becoming Wordsworth by writing the fragments and drafts of what would eventually become The Prelude, an autobiographical epic poem addressed to Coleridge that he hid from the public and was only published after his death in 1850. Feeling pressured to write the greatest epic poem of all time, a task set for him by Coleridge, Wordsworth feared that he was not up to the challenge and instead looked inside himself for memories and materials that he might make into poetry using the power of his imagination. What he found there was another Wordsworth—not exactly the memory of his younger self but rather “some other being” that he could adapt for an innovative kind of life-writing that he hoped would justify his writing life. By writing about himself and that other being, Wordsworth created an innovative autobiographical epic of becoming that is the masterpiece he believed he had failed to write.

In focusing on this young, ambitious, yet insecure Wordsworth struggling to find his place among other writers, Robinson ably demonstrates how The Prelude may serve as a provocative, instructive, and inspirational rumination on the writing of one’s own life. Concentrating on the process of Wordsworth’s endless revisions, the real literary business of creativity, Robinson puts Wordsworth forward as a model and inspiration for the next generation of writers.

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Necessary Luxuries

Books, Literature, and the Culture of Consumption in Germany, 1770–1815

by Matt Erlin

The consumer revolution of the eighteenth century brought new and exotic commodities to Europe from abroad—coffee, tea, spices, and new textiles to name a few. Yet one of the most widely distributed luxury commodities in the period was not new at all, and was produced locally: the book. In Necessary Luxuries, Matt Erlin considers books and the culture around books during this period, focusing specifically on Germany where literature, and the fine arts in general, were the subject of soul-searching debates over the legitimacy of luxury in the modern world.

Building on recent work done in the fields of consumption studies as well as the New Economic Criticism, Erlin combines intellectual-historical chapters (on luxury as a concept, luxury editions, and concerns about addictive reading) with contextualized close readings of novels by Campe, Wieland, Moritz, Novalis, and Goethe. As he demonstrates, artists in this period were deeply concerned with their status as luxury producers. The rhetorical strategies they developed to justify their activities evolved in dialogue with more general discussions regarding new forms of discretionary consumption. By emphasizing the fragile legitimacy of the fine arts in the period, Necessary Luxuries offers a fresh perspective on the broader trajectory of German literature in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, recasting the entire period in terms of a dynamic unity, rather than simply as a series of literary trends and countertrends.

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New Directions in Medieval Manuscript Studies and Reading Practices

Essays in Honor of Derek Pearsall

Kathryn Kerby-Fulton

This volume gathers the contributions of senior and junior scholars—all indebted to the pathbreaking work of Derek Pearsall—to showcase new research prompted by his rich and ongoing legacy as a literary critic, editor, and seminal founder of Middle English manuscript studies. The contributors aim both to honor Pearsall’s work in the field he established and to introduce the complexities of interdisciplinary manuscript studies to students already familiar with medieval literature. The contributors explore a range of issues, from the study of medieval literary manuscripts to the history of medieval books, libraries, literacy, censorship, and the social classes who used the books and manuscripts—nobles, children, schoolmasters, priests, merchants, and more. In addressing reading practices, essays provide a wealth of information on marginal commentaries, images and interpretive methods, international transmission, and early print and editorial methods.

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Nietzsche's Philosophical Context

An Intellectual Biography

Thomas H. Brobjer

Friedrich Nietzsche was immensely influential and, counter to most expectations, also very well read. An essential new reference tool for those interested in his thinking, Nietzsche's Philosophical Context identifies the chronology and huge range of philosophical books that engaged him. Rigorously examining the scope of this reading, Thomas H. Brobjer consulted over two thousand volumes in Nietzsche's personal library, as well as his book bills, library records, journals, letters, and publications. This meticulous investigation also considers many of the annotations in his books. In arguing that Nietzsche's reading often constituted the starting point for, or counterpoint to, much of his own thinking and writing, Brobjer's study provides scholars with fresh insight into how Nietzsche worked and thought; to which questions and thinkers he responded; and by which of them he was influenced. The result is a new and much more contextual understanding of Nietzsche's life and thinking.

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Novel Translations

The European Novel and the German Book, 1680–1730

Many early novels were cosmopolitan books, read from London to Leipzig and beyond, available in nearly simultaneous translations into French, English, German, and other European languages. In Novel Translations, Bethany Wiggins charts just one of the paths by which newness-in its avatars as fashion, novelties, and the novel-entered the European world in the decades around 1700. As readers across Europe snapped up novels, they domesticated the genre. Across borders, the novel lent readers everywhere a suggestion of sophistication, a familiarity with circumstances beyond their local ken.

Into the eighteenth century, the modern German novel was not German at all; rather, it was French, as suggested by Germans' usage of the French word Roman to describe a wide variety of genres: pastoral romances, war and travel chronicles, heroic narratives, and courtly fictions. Carried in large part on the coattails of the Huguenot diaspora, these romans, nouvelles, amours secrets, histoires galantes, and histories scandaleuses shaped German literary culture to a previously unrecognized extent. Wiggin contends that this French chapter in the German novel's history began to draw to a close only in the 1720s, more than sixty years after the word first migrated into German. Only gradually did the Roman go native; it remained laden with the baggage from its "French" origins even into the nineteenth century.

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Periodizing Jameson

Dialectics, the University, and the Desire for Narrative

For a half century, the American intellectual Fredric Jameson has been a driving force in literary and cultural theory. In Periodizing Jameson, Phillip E. Wegner builds upon Jameson’s unique dialectical method to demonstrate the value of Jameson’s tools—periodization, the fourfold hermeneutic, and the Greimasian semiotic square, among others—and to develop virtuoso readings of Jameson’s own work and the history of the contemporary American university in which it unfolds.

Wegner shows how Jameson’s work intervenes in particular social, cultural, and political situations, using his scholarship both to develop original explorations of nineteenth-century fiction, popular films, and other promiment theorists, and to examine the changing fortunes of theory itself. In this way, Periodizing Jameson casts new light on the potential of and challenges to humanist intellectual work in the present.

 

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Postcolonizing the Commonwealth

Studies in Literature and Culture

Women and resistance in Iran; cowboy songs; fetal alcohol syndrome; the conquest of Everest; women settlers in Natal. What do these topics have in common?

The study of what used to be called Commonwealth literature, or the new literatures, has by now come to be known as postcolonial study.This collection of essays investigates the status of postcolonial studies today.

The contributors come from three generations: the pioneers who introduced study of the “new” literatures into university English departments, the next generation who refined and developed many of the theoretical positions embodied in postcolonial study, and the next, much younger, generation, who use the established practices of the discipline to investigate the application of this theory in a wide range of cultural contexts.

Although the authors write from such different starting points, a surprisingly similar set of images, phrases and topics of concern emerge in their essays. They return constantly to issues of difference and similarity, the re-examination of categories that often appear to be too rigidly defined in current postcolonial practices, and to concepts of sharing: experience, ideas of home, and even the use of land.

Postcolonizing the Commonwealth: Studies in Literature and Culture offers an intriguing analysis of the state of postcolonial criticism today and of the application of postcolonial methods to a variety of texts and historical events. It is an invaluable contribution to the current debate in both literary and cultural studies.

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Producing Canadian Literature

Authors Speak on the Literary Marketplace

Producing Canadian Literature: Authors Speak on the Literary Marketplace brings to light the relationship between writers in Canada and the marketplace within which their work circulates. Through a series of conversations with both established and younger writers from across the country, Kit Dobson and Smaro Kamboureli investigate how writers perceive their relationship to the cultural economy—and what that economy means for their creative processes.

The interviews in Producing Canadian Literature focus, in particular, on how writers interact with the cultural institutions and bodies that surround them. Conversations pursue the impacts of arts funding on writers; show how agents, editors, and publishers affect writers’ works; examine the process of actually selling a book, both in Canada and abroad; and contemplate what literary awards mean to writers. Dialogues with Christian Bök, George Elliott Clarke, Daniel Heath Justice, Larissa Lai, Stephen Henighan, Erín Moure, Ashok Mathur, Lee Maracle, Jane Urquhart, and Aritha van Herk testify to the broad range of experience that writers in Canada have when it comes to the conditions in which their work is produced.

Original in its desire to directly explore the specific circumstances in which writers work—and how those conditions affect their writing itself—Producing Canadian Literature will be of interest to scholars, students, aspiring writers, and readers who have followed these authors and want to know more about how their books come into being.

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