The Manufacturers of Literature: Writing and the Literary Marketplace in Eighteenth-Century Englandby George Justice (review)
- The Scriblerian and the Kit-Cats
- The Scriblerian and the Kit-Cats
- Volume 36, Number 2, Spring 2004
- pp. 192-194
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192 But this crediting is itself something of a problem throughout the book: too much recapitulation of the well-known work of the last three decades. The author marks her territorial difference, but the differences —as well as the markings—are small and tentative. Where the claims loom larger, they have a tendency to fall into erroneous distinctions. The differences between ‘‘retirement’’ and ‘‘leisure ’’and ‘‘idleness,’’forinstance,arenot complicated either quickly or deeply.The chapter on laborers does not quite seem to understand how class really operated: ‘‘Many eighteenth-century writers who were not by any means in favor of class equality were astonishingly willing to acknowledge that the poor worked so the rich did not have to, that the poor had not only to provide for their own needs, but also to provide surplus to meet the needs and wants of their betters.’’ That was exactly the point: you work for me because God made me better than you. The greatest strength of The Anxieties of Idleness is its careful playing out of thematic (rather than conceptual, rhetorical , or theoretical) issues and details.But in the end it does not venture far beyond the bounds of a terra already well-cognita . Cynthia Wall University of Virginia GEORGE JUSTICE. The Manufacturers of Literature: Writing and the LiteraryMarketplace in Eighteenth-Century England. Newark: Delaware, 2002. Pp. 281. $46.50. Times have changed. In the mid 1980s, when I wrote my biography of John Almon , a study of the reflexive effectofpolitics on eighteenth-century booksellers and the literature that they published, there was only a handful of books on eighteenth-century print culture, and online research in the area was practically nonexistent. The basic resources were Wing’s Short-Title Catalogue (1945– 1951), which ends at 1700, and H. R. Plomer and E. R. Dix’s Dictionary of Printers and Booksellers (1932), which covers 1726–1775. Electronic library catalogues were in their infancy; Elisabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (1980), Terry Belanger ’s ‘‘Directory of the London Book Trade, 1766’’(1977), William Todd’s Directory of Printers and Others in Allied Trades, London and Vicinity, 1800–1840 (1972), and the emerging online ESTC were as good as it got. Fast forward some fifteen years: The history of the book has become a hot topic . (Go figure!) The proliferation of new periodicals, scholarly societies, and studies includes the recent Books and Their Readers in Eighteenth-Century England (2001), edited by Isabel Rivers, and The Book History Reader (2002), edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery. In fact, Eighteenth-Century Fiction just published a special double issue on fiction and print culture. Interest can also be measured by new institutions devoted to the subject, such as The Centre for the History of the Book (http://www. arts.ed.ac.uk/chb/index.html) and by large-scale collaborative projects that include : The London Book Trades 1775– 1800 (http://www.devon.gov.uk/library /locstudy/bookhist/lonbktr.html), The British Book Trade Index (http://www. bbti.bham.ac.uk/BBTIsources.htm), and new online editions of works such as Wing (www.shef.ac.uk/library/cdfiles/ wing.html). Not only have the Stationers’ Company apprentice registers been indexed to 193 1800, but biographical dictionaries of book trade personnel have been appearing . Much, of course, remains to be done. Interdisciplinary by nature in its emphasis on society, the history of the book focuses on the material culture of thetext, print technology, sociology, bibliography , production, distribution, and circulation . Not only is this field concerned with literacy and reading practices, italso investigates relations among publishers, authors, and the reading public. It is just such issues that Mr. Justice addresses in The Manufacturers of Literature, a welcome addition to studies of eighteenthcentury cultural production. Although Habermas’s notion of the publicspherehasbeenmuchdebated,Mr. Justice usefully extends the concept beyond Habermas’s architectural spaces (with all their gendered implications).Instead of a bourgeois ‘‘public sphere’’ of rational debate, Mr. Justice argues for an eighteenth-century Britain where print was the medium and literature was the public forum. Mr. Justice, who co-edits (with Albert Rivero) The Eighteenth-Century Novel, brings this literary perspective to bear on...