Capital Letters: Authorship in the Antebellum Literary Market (Hardback)
  • Capital Letters: Authorship in the Antebellum Literary Market (Hardback)
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Capital Letters: Authorship in the Antebellum Literary Market (Hardback)

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£45.50
Hardback 226 Pages / Published: 30/03/2009
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In the 1840s and 1850s, as the market revolution swept the United States, the world of literature confronted for the first time the gaudy glare of commercial culture. Amid growing technological sophistication and mounting artistic rejection of the soullessness of materialism, authorship passed from an era of patronage and entered the clamoring free market. In this setting, romantic notions of what it meant to be an author came under attack, and authors became professionals. In lively and provocative writing, David Dowling moves beyond a study of the emotional toll that this crisis in self-definition had on writers to examine how three sets of authors - in pairings of men and women: Harriet Wilson and Henry David Thoreau, Fanny Fern and Walt Whitman, and Rebecca Harding Davis and Herman Melville - engaged with and transformed the book market. What were their critiques of the capitalism that was transforming the world around them? How did they respond to the changing marketplace that came to define their very success as authors? How was the role of women influenced by these conditions? ""Capital Letters"" concludes with a fascinating and daring transhistorical comparison of how two superstar authors - Herman Melville in the nineteenth century and Stephen King today - have negotiated the shifty terrain of the literary marketplace. The result is an important contribution to our understanding of print culture and literary work.

Publisher: University of Iowa Press
ISBN: 9781587297847
Number of pages: 226
Weight: 476 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
""Capital Letters" not only adds to our historical knowledge of antebellum publishing but also deepens our appreciation of the cultural dialogues maintained by some of the nineteenth century's most significant writers."--David Haven Blake, author, "Walt Whitman and the Culture of American Celebrity"
"David Dowling has produced a first-rate book. "Capital Letters" is a thoroughly researched and well-argued analysis of the complicated relationship between 'capital'--in the economic sense--and 'letters'--in the literary sense. Dowling goes about his work with an admirable determination to treat each of his writers as an individual case, but always painstakingly hewing to his theme that writing for the market was the inescapable problem that every writer had to resolve, one way or another. This is an excellent book."--R. Jackson Wilson, author, "Figures of Speech: American Writers and the Literary Marketplace, from Benjamin Franklin to Emily Dickinson"
"What good is an author without readers? But in a market economy, how does the lonely romantic artist find those readers? In this brisk and refreshing book, David Dowling puts into play the range of strategies American authors have used to solve this dilemma, from Thoreau, Whitman, Harriet Wilson, and Fanny Fern to Melville, Rebecca Harding Davis, and even Stephen King. Dowling's authors rolled up their sleeves and with ink-smudged hands dove into the paradoxes of the modern literary marketplace. In the process careers were made, redefined, and ruined--and the market, too, was changed. By asking important new questions about how high romantic ideals wrestled with the materialities of the book trade, Dowling, too, bids fair to change and reenergize the marketplace of American literary studies today."--Laura Dassow Walls, author, " Emerson's Life in Science: The Culture of Truth"
What good is an author without readers? But in a market economy, how does the lonely romantic artist find those readers? In this brisk and refreshing book, David Dowling puts into play the range of strategies American authors have used to solve this dilemma, from Thoreau, Whitman, Harriet Wilson, and Fanny Fern to Melville, Rebecca Harding Davis, and even Stephen King. Dowling s authors rolled up their sleeves and with ink-smudged hands dove into the paradoxes of the modern literary marketplace. In the process careers were made, redefined, and ruined and the market, too, was changed. By asking important new questions about how high romantic ideals wrestled with the materialities of the book trade, Dowling, too, bids fair to change and reenergize the marketplace of American literary studies today. Laura Dassow Walls, author, " Emerson s Life in Science: The Culture of Truth""
David Dowling has produced a first-rate book. "Capital Letters" is a thoroughly researched and well-argued analysis of the complicated relationship between capital in the economic sense and letters in the literary sense. Dowling goes about his work with an admirable determination to treat each of his writers as an individual case, but always painstakingly hewing to his theme that writing for the market was the inescapable problem that every writer had to resolve, one way or another. This is an excellent book. R. Jackson Wilson, author, "Figures of Speech: American Writers and the Literary Marketplace, from Benjamin Franklin to Emily Dickinson""
"Capital Letters" not only adds to our historical knowledge of antebellum publishing but also deepens our appreciation of the cultural dialogues maintained by some of the nineteenth century s most significant writers. David Haven Blake, author, "Walt Whitman and the Culture of American Celebrity""

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