Stephen Karian’s Jonathan Swift in Print and Manuscript: Intro and Ch. 1


When I first heard about Karian’s book, I was  intrigued, because ever since Hugh Kenner’s Stoic Comedians (1963) Swift has been the beneficiary of numerous studies that invoked an Enlightenment-era, democratizing “print culture” as one of the chief motivators behind his satire.  For both Swift and these 20th century critics, “Grub Street” stood for all the democratized (and therefore degraded) knowledge-production, communications, and political behavior that Swift seemed to both loathe and formally imitate in his own writings.

Consequently, Swift, like Sterne, has always seemed to be an author particularly conscious of the ways in which the forms and conventions of print help to shape its meanings for readers, fostering what Kenner, under the influence of Walter Ong, termed his awareness of “book as book.”  Swift’s consciousness of print, as evidenced by his parodies of print conventions like Dedications, Prefaces, and footnotes in works like a Tale of a Tub, helped make him an emblematic figure more generally for the literary implications of print culture from the ’60s and ’70s onward.

During that time, however, our knowledge of both print culture and its larger social, economic, and cultural contexts has expanded enormously.  Since 1963, for example, historians like Eisenstein, Johns and many others have amassed, synthesized, and debated the significance of a vast amount of information concerning the historical emergence and distinctive features of print culture, while scholars like McKenzie, Ezell, Love, and now McKitterick have contributed their own appreciation for the interrelatedness of manuscript and print production during the early modern period, including the long eighteenth century.

In his very lucid introduction to Swift in Print and Manuscript, Karian helpfully outlines his  methodological debts to this “second wave” of historical scholarship that stresses the “interactivity and fluidity” of print and manuscript, while noting that this scholarship is influenced by “our contemporary existence as members of an emerging digital culture that is still very much immersed in print” (2).

With an impressive rigor and thoroughness, Karian extends this notion of Swift’s emblematic status from a unitary and over-idealized “print culture” to our emerging sense of the “interactivity and fluidity” of print and manuscript during the long eighteenth century. Of course, with this refinement of the concept of “print culture,” we no longer have a single, easy term for what Swift is representative of, but this seems like a small loss compared to what we have gained by pursuing this particular line of thought about Swift’s relation to the history of the book.

The first effect of this refinement of the Swift and print culture thesis is to create what seems to me a very useful periodization for Swift’s career, determined not just by Swift’s own biographical circumstances but his proximity to a network of loyal and trustworthy printers. Hence, we first get the London-based publications of 1701-1714; second, the Dublin-based publications of his Irish pamphlets from 1720-27, with the significant exception of Gulliver’s Travels; and finally the indirect, London-based publications of 1727-39 through a set of intermediaries who introduced their own complexities into the process.

Karian’s first chapter, “Print Publication,” surveys these three periods of Swift’s career, and pays particularly close attention to the circumstances surrounding Faulkner’s Dublin edition of the Works (1735), which (ever since its championing by Harold Williams) has long been treated as reflecting the close personal involvement of Swift.  The effect of this subdivision is to reveal the constraints operating upon Swift during this time even as his fame grew, and to show how Swift responded creatively to these challenges, often through what we might term his collaborations with friends and booksellers throughout the process of composition, printing, and distribution.

It is worth recalling that this second wave of scholarship in the history of the book emerged to counterbalance the Whiggish, teleological tendencies of some of the print culture argument, by showing not just the persistence, but the continued vitality of practices like manuscript circulation among particular subcultures, particularly aristocratic coteries.  It also had the useful effect of highlighting the social dimension of such authorship and its practices of circulation, in the century prior to the Romantic conceptualization of authorship.  Finally, it has had the interesting consequence of highlighting the importance of censorship and other institutional constraints upon writers in this period, something which literary scholars are often vaguely aware of, but whose details are often left obscure except in a few well-known cases of outright prosecution.  Prosecution, however, is a clear sign of someone not understanding “the rules of the game,” and it seems equally important to note how writers like Swift managed to avoid prosecution while still publishing quite pointed satires on prominent political figures.

Karian’s approach pays off handsomely for each of the periods he surveys: in the first portion, Karian explains the significance of the “trade publisher,” whose name appeared in the imprints, but who did not own copyright in the works he helped print (17).  This strategy allowed Swift to add a layer of intermediaries between himself and his printers, thereby helping to conceal his own authorship, or at least add an element of plausible deniability to controversial works.  Karian is able to show that Swift’s proximity to his London printers’ social network enabled him to print controversial works with relatively little exposure to risk and with considerable control over the final form of the works, unlike in later phases of his career (18-19).  Karian is also able to show how Swift prized the printers like Tooke who withstood threats of prosecution, and rewarded them with continued work.

The second phase (1720-7) surveyed by Karian describes Swift’s relations with his Dublin printers, who appear quite steadfast in their loyalty to him, and who were rewarded in turn (20).  Yet his experience with Motte’s printing of Gulliver’s Travels showed the contemporary difficulties of printing political satire: Motte, for whatever reason, chose to print GT under his own name rather than a trade publisher, and consequently made his own omissions and additions to the text out of fear of prosecution, much to Swift’s irritation (21-22).  This section serves to demonstrate the importance of such stratagems for successful publication of satires, because both authors and booksellers needed to strike a balance between what was printable and what would appeal to an audience eager for controversy.

The last phase (1727-39) takes us deep into Faulkner’s edition, and the reasons for Williams’s championing of it as reflective of Swift’s input.  Karian  stresses the notion (initially aired by A.C. Elias) that Faulkner relied as much on Swift’s friends as on Swift himself for collecting the works that were included in these volumes, and that these friends may have engaged in group revisions of the proof sheets of both the 1735 Faulkner edition as well as the 1732 Fairbrother edition.  None of this refutes Williams’s claims for the priority of the 1735 edition, but should make us more cautious about assuming Swift’s total absorption in the work involved in this edition.

This eminently social view of authorship, including the tasks of editing and revision, should render us more conscious of the collaborative nature of authorship for genres like political pamphlets, lampoons, satires, etc. for this period.  More importantly, Swift complains a great deal about intermediaries and parasites throughout his satires, but they were also essential for his ability to publish and circulate his work to the public.  Consequently, he quite generously rewarded those who demonstrated their loyal to him. Karian–quite rightly, in my view–considers this a form of “patronage” that Swift directs towards what amounts to his dependents (30).

I have a few related questions for Karian or the others reading this book for EMOB:

  • First of all, is there a single term we could now use to signify this fluid interchange of print and manuscript culture?  In other words, do we have, or need, an alternative to the unitary term “print culture” in our analysis of the eighteenth century?
  • Second, is there a critical law of diminishing returns for this kind of collaborative view of textual production?  What Karian is practicing looks to me more and more like our treatment of performance or cinema than our usual “auteur” models of solo production.  In other words, I would say that the usefulness of the distinction between “trade publishers” and copyright holders is that it reveals the genuinely important people in Swift’s collaborative practices.
  • Finally, how important is the ubiquity of censorship, or the genre expectations of satire, to this kind of analysis of textual production?  Could we learn as much from writers when they are not deliberately trying to skirt the law?  In other words, how generalizable is this kind of approach to other kinds of writers, genres, or periods of literary or cultural history?

Thanks, everyone, for giving me the opportunity to engage with this impressive piece of scholarship.  I am eager to hear what others make of this.



12 Responses to “Stephen Karian’s Jonathan Swift in Print and Manuscript: Intro and Ch. 1”

  1. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Many thanks, Dave, for this very fine start to our discussion of Karian’s thoughtful, impressive study. Equal thanks are owed for the questions you pose and for Steve’s work that gave rise to these queries.

    In terms of your first question, I would think we would want to retain the terms that distinguish between “manuscript” or “scribal” culture and that of “print culture.” Print, in many ways, created manuscript. The invention of printing bestowed new significance on the word manuscript, as the word came to denote a handwritten document that could function as either an endpoint of or intermediate stage in the production of a printed text. As the OED details in its etymological head note to manuscript,

    The post-classical Latin noun manuscriptum was used occasionally of documents which derived evidential value from being written by a particular person, until the late 15th cent., when the invention of printing gave it and the associated nouns manuscripta (a1475) and manuscriptus (a1567) wider currency, especially in humanistic use.”

    These original connotations of “evidential value” lingered for many centuries, as Chapt. 2 of Karian’s work indeed suggests; moreover, one can arguably still see traces of these meanings today.

    Yet in arguing that the two terms be retained, I do so because I see distinguishing between manuscript and print as useful in our efforts to better understand the”fluid interactions” of the two media. As we will see in chapter 2 and on, one of Karian’s aims is to examine the why behind the circulation of Swift’s work in manuscript. At times, Swift chose this medium, but even when he didn’t, the use of separate terms helps illuminate both the overlaps and the distinctions between print and manuscript. We tend today to speak of the “digital culture” in which we live, but that does not mean that print culture has disappeared or ceased to exercise important functions. As Dave, quoting Steve, notes, Karian’s scholarship and that of others have been “influenced by ‘our contemporary existence as members of an emerging digital culture that is still very much immersed in print.’”

    Although Eisenstein’s mammoth work was devoted to conjectures about print culture, early on she remarks, “Historians are trained to discriminate between manuscript sources and printed texts; but they are not trained to think with equal care about how manuscripts appeared when this sort of discrimination was inconceivable” (Printing Press as an Agent of Change 10). Today we are fortunately recognizing that we have neglected to consider how manuscript culture appeared when such a discrimination was possible. Interestingly, her footnote to this assertion points to efforts by book historians to employ terms that distinguish between the “pre-Gutenberg manuscript and the post-print one” (10 n19). If such terminology had gained widespread acceptance, then perhaps we would have been less inclined to erect rigid binaries between post-Gutenberg manuscript culture and print culture. As an aside that we might explore later, it also seems important to recognize the traces or influence that oral culture continues to exercise.

    Dave’s thoughts about Karian’s “collaborative view of textual production” fascinated me, for I had a quite different reaction. In part I view authorship generally as more a collaborative than a solo affair–though the degree can vary. Steve’s reconstruction of the textual history of various works here and elsewhere found me thinking of the ways in which versions of this collaboration have persisted. (Think of Max Perkins, for one, and the authors with whom he worked). It is become a commonplace among book historians that authors don’t write books; they write texts. The transformation of the author’s work into a book is a collaborative process involving many hands. The collaborative nature of both print and manuscript, albeit with differences, is underscored in Karian’s study.

    The issue of trade publishers is one that still warrants more study. Karian’s work helps highlight their usefulness and significance to Swift. As Treadwell charts, trade publishers operated chiefly between 1675 and 1750 and, albeit a small group, these men and women played a major role in the retail trade of pamphlets and periodicals. Most were not copyright holders, but the name of Abigail Baldwin, a major trade publisher for Whig causes until her death in late 1713, appears fifteen times as the ostensible owner of copies in the Stationers’ Company’s Registers. Although she was dealt primarily in Whig-associated works, she also lent her name on occasion to works written by authors who held Tory sympathies.

    I would strongly suspect that the kind of analysis of textual production undertaken by Karian would pay dividends (though reasons and patterns may differ) for other genres. Although tackling somewhat of a different situation, André Belo’s ‘Between History and Periodicity: Printed and Hand–Written News in 18th–Century Portugal’, e–Journal of Portuguese History 2/2 (Winter 2004), examines the differences and interconnections between José Freire de Monterroyo Mascarenha’s treatment of “news” in the printed Gazeta de Lisboa that he edited and in the hand-written pamphlets/newsletters folhetos,/i> he wrote as well as those found in Montez Mattozo’s hand-written periodical Folheto de Lisboa. The contents and shaping of the print versus manuscript news vehicles suggest clear strategies at work–strategies tied to limitations in a state in which censorship was still officially operative.

    Dave’s last query also made me think of John Shebbeare’s trouble with his “novel” Marriage Act (1754), an attack on Hardwicke’s act to reform marriage; its 600-plus pages reads like a novel, and it was the choice of title, it seems, that perhaps generated the trouble. Although he was imprisoned for the work at the time, the book was reissued the following year as “Matrimony,” a title that stripped the work of its political overtones. I’ve not had the opportunity to collate the two, nor have I checked to see if a manuscript survived, but an examination of the two texts suggest that only the title was altered. Yet, of course,this example strays quite a bit from the type of textual analysis of production that Karian is admirably modeling for us.


  2. Al Coppola Says:

    I want to say thanks to you, Dave, for such a lucid and thoughtful opening review. You’ve set the bar high for the rest of us, I’d say.

    I find quite compelling what Karian is telling us about Swift and the eminently social nature of his authorship. For lots of good reasons, “Swift” is one of those boldface names that continue define our period, anchor our survey courses, etc. How nice to get such a fine-grained account of how canny, how dependent, and how varied his mode of authorship was. The periodization of Swift’s work into three distinct phases depending on his access to booksellers and manuscript coteries is eye opening, I’d say.

    I’d like to pick up on a couple of the questions you’ve left us with, Dave. You wonder if we don’t need a new term to identify the “fluid interchange of print and manuscript culture.” I think that Eleanor’s point is very well taken, that the whole idea of a manuscript culture only becomes legible once there is a print culture of more public and (at least potentially) more stable textual transmission, and which is subject to different rules of propriety and censorship. I too am thinking about the highly organized and very widely disseminated transmission of sensitive news in 17c newsletters produced by Nathaniel Butter and the like (similar to the Portuguese newsletters you note, Eleanor). And to mention a pre-Guttenberg example, books were published in ancient Rome, and the satirists that Swift, Pope, et al were emulating certainly used those channels of authorship alongside more private scribal communities. All of which is to say that there would seem to be forms of manuscript publication that were designedly public before, and for a while at least, concurrent with, the establishment of print, and which don’t define themselves against an ostensibly more public mode of print. Butter’se news was never going to reappear on a printed page, and it in turn was a tamped down version of more dangerous reports that were being spread by mouth and private (and frequently coded) letters. For me, this throws into relief that “fluid interchange” that Dave draws attention to, which seems to be most common with satire and other genres where the controversial nature of the material required caution and subterfuge, but which the whole point was to straddle the two modes of publication, and play upon the opportunities presented by their disjuction. In these cases, the choice to disseminate texts in some combination of print and manuscript would seem to be highly local and contingent, as Karian helps us see. Satires might circulate in scribal coteries as a way of testing their strength (and their riskiness), or to simply deliver the thrust to the small community that was concerned. Some or all of the satire might make it into print either on purpose or by accident. We know all this well. But what I’m wondering is 1) whether there is a shift to be discerned among authors (or just satirists?) when the conventions of this manuscript/print fluidity establish themselves once print culture really starts to take off (i.e. at the end of the run of “Poems on Affairs of State” as opposed to the beginning, or Swift as opposed to Rochester); and 2) whether other genres/discourses follow similar logics, or if there is a rather different state of play to this fluidity when we consider, say, the often initially unauthorized publication of science lectures, or the publication of theatrical materials like pantomime descriptions and other ephemera.

    I’ll cite for example the case of J. T. Desaguliers’ lectures: they were first published in an unauthorized form in 1719, against Desaguliers wishes, at the prompting of Richard Steele, who put a flunky up to the task of taking careful lecture notes and then printing up his transcriptions. It seems that Steele was forcibly prodding the scientist into print out of a sense of civic duty, but Desaguliers was quite peeved when he got wind of the scheme. After a good deal of indignant talk in the classified pages, and some sums of money changing hands, he eventually consented to involve himself in the project and performed some substantial edits to the transcripts (how much, and what, I am not sure) and, crucially, he changed the title from the ambitious “System of Experimental Philosophy” to the more humble and ad hoc “Lectures of Experimental Philosophy.” I’m not sure how much can be extrapolated from this one example, but it would seem that this would be an example of an author having print imposed upon his work, as well as a model of authorship that might well be at odds with the gentlemanly social codes that were requisite for his standing as a scientist. Part of it, too, I think is that the kind of knowledge that Desaguliers thought he was producing–that is, in an educational setting involving face-to-face communication–was already being co-opted as something new, as entertainment. It’s not that the material was in any way controversial, or even not already in the domain of print. Many of his experiments in this 1719 course, or at least the principles behind them, were already in print via the Philosophical Transactions. Rather to put the lectures themselves into print was to make them something else, and to configure an entirely new relationship between scientific knowledges and the public. There are similarities here to what happens to Swift’s satires, but also some interesting differences. I wonder what you make of all of this. I confess that only just now, after thinking through Karian’s thesis, have I thought to consider this odd episode in Desaguliers career in this light.

    I had initially thought to say a word or two about trade publishers, but I think I’ve gone on long enough already!


  3. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    You have followed Dave’s lead, Al, and brought more good ideas and queries to the table.

    Thomas Gray seems relevant to mention here as a serviceable case that responds to several of Dave’s and Al’s queries. Eschewing the marketplace, Gray preferred to circulate his work among a small circle of male friends and did not seek or welcome a larger audience for his odes or lyrics. He did, however, view satire as a different generic beast, one well suited to public airings. As for being co-opted into print, Gray also affords a useful example from the perspective of the author. It has been said that Gray allowed his “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751) to be printed by Dodsley as a defense against threatened, unauthorized publications of this piece. Linda Zionkowski’s Men’s Work: Gender, Class, and the Professionalization of Poetry 1660-1784 has a very fine chapter on Gray within this context. Zionkowski’s discussion of Gray’s attitudes toward print and manuscript as well as the genres in which he wrote lends insights about the mid-century marketplace.

    Al’s account of J. T. Desaguliers’s changing his title from the one adopted by the unauthorized edition also speaks to the notion of control over one’s work. Mentions of title choices in the bookseller Robert Dodsley’s correspondence reveal much about diverse relationships the bookseller had with the authors he published. My own work on the evolution of the title as a textual practice regards the title as a deed of ownership of sorts; who controls the choice and wording of a title is generally a sign of who is exercising control over the textual property. Some of Dodsley’s authors gave deference to Dodsley in deciding these matters, while a poet like Gray unsurprisingly adopts a haughty attitude, dictating the titular terms to Dodsley. While factors of class certainly play a role in these exchanges, attitudes toward Dodsley as the bookseller also reflect diverse authorial attitudes toward the increasingly commercialize literary marketplace.

    Albeit altered by degrees, the fluid interchanges between manuscript and print persist, in my mind, even as print retains a greater hold; these shifting media relationships, moreover, exhibit various manifestations depending on the generic context. What does the trope of the found manuscript that initiates many a novel well into the latter decades of the century, for instance, tell us about this form of prose and its relationship to the two media? This fluidity also seems to assume different characteristics depending on locale as well as one’s conceptual perspective and identity markers including markers of class and gender. Are we viewing this fluidity from the perspective of the bookseller? from that of readers (and/or particular reader niches?), from that of the author?

    Your remarks about how the move of Desaguliers’s lectures from their orally delivered state or from their presentation within the pages of Philosophical Transactions transformed them into something else, something different that also bespoke a restructuring of the public’s relationship to scientific knowledge exemplify the types of questions that emerge when one views texts through the lens of book history. One could similarly ask, for example, what the textual repackaging of, say, Martyn’s Dictionary of Natural History from folio volume with hand-colored plates to a pocket edition similarly adorned reveal about the knowledge industry and its market near the end of the century. As an aside, Cal Winton mentions Desaguliers as Steele’s “good friend” in the second volume of his biography of Steele. The first mention gives the date of 1719 and speaks of Desaguliers’s lectures at Steele’s Censorium, and the second case entails Desaguliers’s prominent role in the Freemasons. As a book historian, Cal might have more specific information about the circumstances surrounding the publication of these lectures. (He has long been interested in writing another biography of Steele from the perspective of book history.)


  4. Dave Mazella Says:

    –Eleanor, I don’t think we disagree about the collaborative nature of authorship, as it is presented by the history of the book, but I do think the onset of print introduces new hierarchies, or at least structures, that seem to conceal the precise roles of intermediaries like Morphew or Barber. And I absolutely agree that the boundaries of “manuscript” or “scribal” cultures cannot be delineated until something like print makes the distinctions salient.

    –Al, welcome aboard. It seems to me that it’s worth thinking about the differential effects of genre and discourse here, because this seems to me a dimension of the “print culture” argument that historians like Johns or Eisenstein are not particularly attentive to. (Foucault, in contrast, seems very directly focused on this issue in What is an Author?, one of the reasons why that essay still gets reread)

    I think satire and censorship constitute a large part of the story in this account, as they do in accounts of early modern satire like Andrew McRrae’s, Literature, Satire, and the early Modern State, and I think you’re right to call attention to the strategic dimension of authorial attitudes towards dissemination. This certainly accords with my sense of the Poems on the Affairs of State, and perhaps why satire itself, as a genre, seems to have such different stakes at either end of the long 18th century. But it seems worthwhile trying to pin down the qualitative differences from one sub-period to the next.

    I’m fascinated by your example of Desaguliers and Eleanor’s of Gray. I do think that in the absence of state censorship, we have something closer to the traditional strategies of authorial self-presentation pitted against the forces of the marketplace. I think what examples like these reveal is the collaborative dimension of authorship that an author-centered literary criticism often obscures. But in order for cases like these to be interesting, I suspect there need to be conflicting agendas.


  5. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Dave, in one sense I also don’t think we disagree about trade publishers in terms of their appearance as a result of new hierarchies and the like. Yet these “publishers,” as they were known at the time, were a “relatively” short-lived phenomenon. They first emerged around 1680 in response to two developments: 1) the highly volatile political situation (Exclusion Crisis) and 2) the lapse of the Licensing Act of 1679. These combined circumstances created conditions that gave rise to a need that the role of trade publishers was able to fill. While the political situation resulted in a flood of highly sensitive, risky pamphlets and other printed material, the lapse of the 1679 act created ambiguity about whether a given work would be deemed treasonous or libelous and thus subject to prosecution. Under the act works were subject to pre-publication licensing (i.e., censorship); yet after its lapse, one risked being charged with treason or libel as a result of publication. That the Exclusion Crisis generated much anxiety over who would be in power only heightened the uncertainty about what constituted treason or libel, for these definitions depended on who prevailed in the political power struggle. Binders were the first trade publishers, and they were willing to assume the risks involved for an opportunity to improve their financial situation as the members occupying the lowest paying rung of the trade. Although trade publishers lasted until the 1760s (and a few strayed beyond), their heyday extended only into the late 1720s. Here the growing popularity of newer forms of print–newspapers and periodicals created new financial opportunities, while a reduction in political uncertainty compared to that of the late 17th century diminished a need for their services. Nor do I think their roles were truly concealed at the time; they certainly were not a secret within the trade or those who dealt with the trade. Time had eventually buried and concealed their roles to later historians and students of literature until scholars, especially Michael Treadwell, shed light on this past practice.

    Foucault does offer a good start to exploring how effects vary according to genre and discourse, but Foucault plays a bit fast and loose with historical specificity and his work emerges out of an understanding of the French situation, so adjustments need to be made. Comparing the examples that Abel Boyer uses to gloss the meaning of “author” in his Royal Dictionary against those offered by the French dictionary writers who preceded him and from which he drew suggests some of the differences. Boyer’s sentences, for example, situate the author in a emerging commercial context.

    Dave and Al, Although he was an anomaly among his peers, Gray as well as others in his circle , especially the satirist Charles Churchill, would offer a good point of comparison “to pin down the qualitative differences from one sub-period to the next.”


  6. Dave Mazella Says:

    Ha, I realized after I posted this that mentioning Foucault would probably cause some consternation. We don’t need to turn this thread into a debate over MF, but I cited him simply because I think What is an Author is a theoretical text that successfully shows the importance and historical variance of the “author function” over time, as well the differential effects of discourse upon our notions of authorship. I am interested in your Boyer example, though. Is that something you’ve written about somewhere, or would like to post sometime? But no, I’m not trying to cite MF as a historian.

    The trade publisher issue is something that was news to me, and I’m grateful to the discussion here for being alerted to it. Once again, I think understanding the common practices gives us a much more finer grained understanding of Swift’s own choices, to echo Al’s language.

    I was thinking about post-1760s satire, Wilkes and Churchill included, when I was writing my earlier responses. I think that Smollett’s brushes with the law would also yield some interesting thoughts in this context of satire’s entanglement with censorship throughout our period. But I stand by my comment that it seems like satire and political polemics (hence, Shebbeare) seem like the most likely objects for the approach modeled by Karian here. But perhaps others have other suggestions?


  7. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    All good, Dave. And I realized after I posted that my remarks about Foucault may have seemed unduly dismissive. I actually find Foucault’s writings extremely interesting and quite useful, and I teach his “What is an Author?” essay across a range of classes.

    Karian’s work is a fine illustration of how a greater understanding of production matters can assist literary historians (and as a lesson in how much is generally not known). According to Treadwell, trade publishers proved useful to authors and printers in terms of ensuring distribution of their works; booksellers/copyright holders sought them for concealment and ease.

    I think you are right about satire and political polemics being prime genres in terms of censorship. It might also be useful to consider how satire can be found in many generic forms–verse, the satirical novel, essay, and so forth.


  8. alcoppola Says:

    Dear All,

    I know we’ve all moved on to consider the ensuing chapter reviews, but I though I’d circle back to this initial thread just one more time. I’ve really gotten a lot out of this exchange–and in particular the examples from writers in the latter end of the century who exploited the differential authorial potentialities available through print and manuscript. My own fine-grained knowledge of the long eighteenth (to the extent that it *is* fine-grained!) tends to go fuzzy for me after mid-century, so it’s nice to be reminded of Gray and Smollett and some other folks who might be profitably brought into a dialog with Swift, the POAS writers and other authors active at the beginning of the Long 18th, a time that I think we all seem to agree is marked by the fitful and variable establishment of print. Does this mean the rules of engagement are essentially fixed and unchanging at the end of the century? I don’t think I have enough expertise to say–what do you all think?

    The discussion of trade publishers has gotten me thinking. We’ve been talking about trade publishers in terms that I believe they tend almost exclusively to be talked about–that is, as intermediaries who might insulate the legally responsible parties from prosecution and/or other reprisals when publishing politically sensitive materials. Eleanor, as someone who knows about all this much better than I do, feel free to correct me, but I’m not sure there has been a lot of work on their role in mediating the commercial and market pressures of print. In paying this role, I think we can see a way back to David’s question about whether Karian’s approach might be profitably applied to discourses other than satire. The example I have in mind here is Eliza Haywood, whose collected “Works” appear in 1724, and then a similar, but significantly different corpus of texts appear the next year in a collection entitled “Secret Histories, Novels and Poems.” The bibliographic story is byzantine to say the least, but the point that’s relevant to this discussion is that the Works were a nonce collection of texts that were essentially remaindered by 1724, a last-chance attempt by Haywood’s first booksellers to move texts that they had invested in and which were not selling as expected. The prime mover in all this was William Chetwood, the eventual prompter of Drury Lane and author of an important history of the stage, who was at the time operating as a bookseller and trade publisher in Covent Garden. He was the original publisher of Haywood’s break-out *Love in Excess*, and he either owned (or, as was far more commonly the case, acquired a range of titles as a trade publisher), that taken together tend to “brand” him, if such a word can apply to the 18c, as an up-market purveyor of novels, travelogues, plays and poems of a refinement (or at least which promoted themselves as offering refinement). I see him as part of the legitimization of the novel and of “mere entertainment” literature generally, and he did this not primarily by acting as a publishing bookseller (he wasn’t a member of the Stationers Co, after all) but instead as a retail reseller whose name was placed on books that were actually published by other booksellers (in his case, the younger sons of some very established bookselling families, young men just starting out in the trade on their own and who might plausibly wish to enter into a new kind of partnership with a man with connections, through the theater, to the fashionable circles of Westminster). In this regard, trade publishing isn’t an expedient to dodge prosecution, but rather a branding strategy. I don’t (yet) know enough about the activities of other trade publishers to know if Chetwood’s experience is singular. But at least here we see the real influence of a trade publisher on not just the author-function “Haywood” but arguably on an emergent genre. It was Chetwood who was behind the strategy of marketing a high-minded Addisonian Haywood, and he was out of the picture when scandal took top billing the following year’s new edition, *Secret Histories, Novels and Poems.”


  9. Eleanor Shevlin Says:


    Just a quick reply! No, the rules of engagement (if by engagement you mean those of bookselling/publishing) are definitely not fixed by the end of the century, but new issues, circumstances, and the like have arisen, so different sets of factors and rules are being negotiated.

    And, yes, concealment was not the only reason booksellers and authors turned to trade publishers. A key reason was distribution. A recent essay of mine, however, does discuss the activities of Baldwin and others in transforming the use of “Atalantis” as a titular key word in terms genre development.

    I am not sure why you are identifying Chetwood as a “trade publisher.” That said, I don’t know his particular history beyond his ties to Love in Excess, Defoe’s Moll Flanders, a copyright suit, and Curll. Could you say a little more? I should note that one did not need to be a member of the Stationers’ Company to be a bookseller, a term that covered a wide variety of activities including indicating a retailer or someone who financed a publication. Baines and Roger, for instance, identify Chetwood as a publisher, while they identify Baldwin, Roberts, Morphew and others specifically as “trade publishers.”


  10. alcoppola Says:


    You make the very point that has puzzled me about Chetwood, or at least how Patrick Spedding, in his fine bibliography of Eliza Haywood, has characterized Chetwood’s role in bringing that author to market Here’s a footnote from an article I have on this that *should* be in the next volume of 1650-1850:

    “According to the English Short Title Catalog, Chetwood only appears as a London bookseller on imprints between 1718 and 1724, and generally as a reseller of titles printed and/or owned by other booksellers and printers. Accordingly, Spedding, Bibliography, 55, identifies Chetwood as a “trade publisher,” assuming that Browne and Chapman were the booksellers who actually owned Haywood’s copyrights and who used Chetwood merely as a distributor of their stock. To support the conclusion that Chetwood was only a functionary, Spedding cites Michael Treadwell, “London Trade Publishers 1675–1750,” The Library ser. 6, 4.2(1982): 99–134, but Chetwood’s activities diverge in significant ways from those of J. Roberts, for example. According to Treadwell, trade publishers like Roberts were comparatively few (no more than four seem to have operated on his scale at any one time between 1680 and 1744); all had been made free and become well established in the book trades, often as book binders, long before turning to trade publishing; and virtually all of the trade publishers in the period were linked via inheritance to just a few closely-held family enterprises located in and around St. Paul’s, the geographic center of the book trade. Chetwood, on the other hand, ran a much smaller niche operation in the fashionable West End, specializing in high-brow belles-lettres (as opposed to the pamphlets and periodicals that formed the backbone of the major trade publishers). Although Spedding is right to correct those critics who have misunderstood Chetwood’s role in the publication of Haywood and overstated his influence, I will argue below that Chetwood, particularly in the first years of Haywood’s career, seems to have been instrumental in getting her work to market, and was likely the initial holder of her first copyrights.”

    I should take a look at Baines and Rogers new(ish) book on Curll. It sounds like they have a more precise definition in mind of what constitutes a trade publisher. Is it safe to assume that you (and they) would draw a distinction between those few very well established trade publishers and retailers (if that’s the right term) like Chetwood?


  11. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Thanks, Al. I would lean toward trusting Spedding and would suggest emailing him to inquire further. Could he be citing Treadwell’s article more to explain what a trade publisher is rather than as evidence that Chetwood is a trade publisher? If I had a copy of Spedding’s wonderful bibliography of Haywood at home, I would have checked before responding. (I, for one, was very excited to learn of his identifying Haywood as the author of Memoirs of an Unfortunate Nobleman). Treadwell, who doesn’t mention Chetwood in the article you cite (if memory serves me correctly–I can check, for I do have a copy of that piece in my files), wrote this essay many years ago without the benefit of ESTC online and other tools we have today. That said, Baines and Rogers usually know what they are talking about. They use “trade publisher” often as an appositive with a proper name.

    As I note above, I haven’t looked into Chetwood, and my knowledge is based on secondary references in this case. Yet, I have also found a number of eminent scholars to be wrong or confused about the figure I am researching, so that has taught me a lesson as well.


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