Abstract

One of the curious but salient characteristics of Enlightenment literature is that it often takes great pains to organize not the visibility but the disappearance of the author from its fiction. In this essay, I look at several works by Diderot and Beaumarchais where authorlessness is a form of ciphered authorial presence, that is, a particular mode of authorship capable of articulating both the aesthetic autonomy of the literary work and its inscription in moral and legal modes of individual appropriation. I argue that to account for these representations of authorlessness gives us a clearer picture of what literary authorship meant for those who helped define it in the second half of the eighteenth century.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 345-359
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-19
Open Access
No
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