- The Publishing and Marketing of Illustrated Literature in Scotland, 1760–1825 by Sandro Jung
Sandro Jung's new book, The Publishing and Marketing of Illustrated Literature in Scotland, 1760–1825, is a deep dive into Scottish book illustration that fills a scholarly gap in both book history and Scottish studies. Despite the advance of Archipelagic perspectives in recent decades, the field of eighteenth–century studies too often defaults to an Anglocentrism that obscures Scottish, Welsh, and Irish events or situates them as peripheral to an imagined English core. Jung's book focuses attention on an aspect of Scottish history too long neglected: the role of printed visual culture—specifically, engravings and woodcuts—in marketing a national literary canon.
Boasting "a consideration of the largest number of Scottish illustrated editions examined to date," the book's critical and methodological interventions are both Scotland-specific and book-historical (xix). Jung upends traditional assumptions that favor fine artists and neglect the engravers who adapted their designs for the printed page. Indeed, Jung insists throughout the book on "the central importance of the engraver" (xxiii). Another unusual move is the attention given not only to original commissions but also to reprinted engravings and their function in the selling of printed books.
Jung is not shy about noting the theoretical and other shortcomings of his fellow scholars of book illustration for, among other things, failing to produce a systematic bibliography of illustrations and not giving engravers their due. Online resources, including ECCO and the British Museum's image database, are similarly called out. Jung's own approach is closest to that of Lisa Maruca, whose notion of "the polyvocality of print" Jung acknowledges in the introduction (xxvii). The study that results from this overturning of traditional priorities is less literary– historical than, one might say, business–historical: Jung's remit is to understand the social history of professional relationships among the printers and engravers who produced the first generation of distinctly Scottish illustrated editions. His main objects of attention are individual editions and engravings, with supporting evidence provided by advertisements, wrappers, business accounts, and copyright statutes. In an age of digital scholarship, Jung's study is possibly best described as analogue humanities: he has amassed a large personal library of Scottish illustrated books and examined them closely. All eighty of the book's illustrations come from his own collection.
The book's chapters balance attention to large and small publishing enterprises, from the Morisons of Perth and Oliver & Boyd in Edinburgh to little–known operations in small Scottish towns. The geographical sweep is reflected in the book's unusual index, which lists individuals separately as engravers, illustrators, or general names and divides publishers by town. Scottish publishers, for instance, are listed under Aberdeen, Ayr, Cupar, Dunbar/Haddington, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kirkaldy, Montrose, Paisley, Perth, and St. Andrews. The attention given to small publishers gives the book a national scope not seen before in studies of eighteenth–century Scottish illustration, of which there have been, as Jung notes, too few. [End Page 329]
Chapter one, on the Morisons, focuses on illustrated editions of the leading lights of eighteenth–century Scottish writing—Allan Ramsay, James Thomson, and James Macpherson—and shows how publishers' efforts to link these modern writers to their Middle Scots predecessors yielded a continuous national literary canon. The second chapter develops the argument about the importance of reprinting engravings and uncovers a fascinating lost publication of the 1790s, The General Magazine, the subjects of whose illustrations Jung reconstructs from ancillary evidence like advertisements. Chapter three treats Robert Chapman's firm in Glasgow, not yet the Victorian metropolis it would later become, and early illustrated editions of Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns. The final chapter looks at the rise of Oliver & Boyd in the early nineteenth century. Jung compensates for gaps in the documentary record by his "examination of all surviving copies of Oliver & Co.'s illustrated literary texts referenced in WorldCat and COPAC" (191). Throughout the book, Jung pushes carefully forward in situations of...