Ezell 1999

From Whiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ezell, Margaret J. M. Social Authorship and the Advent of Print. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.
"the history of authorship in late-seventeenth-century Britain and in particular the history of manuscript transmission of literary texts have been delineated and controlled by a set of metaphors based on assumptions about class and technology and on gender and technology. In this story about authorship, print publication takes on the heroic role of the revolutionary force, usually represented by male writers eager to seize new opportunities, while manuscript culture has the role of the villain -- the elitist, snobby aristocrat, very often a woman, clinging to long-outmoded forms in a futile attempt to retain control and power. In contrast to these existing interpretations of the heroic, democratizing impact of print technology in the seventeenth century, I explore in the following set of essays the cultural world of the script author and the 'hidden' female participation in it both as author and as reader." (11)
"we still need studies that are not focused on the 'advanced' or modern concept of authorship during this period of transition but instead on all the varied aspects of the material culture of literature, especially as they are affected by geographic location and by the gender of the writer or the reader." (12)
"What all of these theoretical models of authorship in the past do, in spite of their differences, is to erase the notion of manuscript authorship that did not have as its primary aim a commercial readership and, likewise, any sense of a culture of reading adn writing in which it was engaged. Instead, the notion of author found in these disparate studies tends to dismiss non-commercial texts as 'aristocratic', 'amateur', and 'vulnerable'." (17)
"In the same way that we have theorized authorship before having a good descriptive model of scribal practices, we have tended to analyze early modern authorship as if region made little difference." (18)

The Social Author: Manuscript Culture, Writers, and Readers

"Suppose an author, living in a small village in the 1650s or even as late as the 1690s, wrote a poem: What were his or her options to secure readers? What are the terms and models we have available to describe the experience of authorship in this period? How have the terms that have been used to narrate the process of authorship and progress of print shaped our perspectives on past experiences and our expectations about early modern literary culture?" (22)
"Instead of seeking to describe the activities of the author and his or her manuscripts before they are forever fixed in print, current studies of manuscripts from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries have instead focused on their relationship to print culture and how best to convert them to print volumes." (23)
"What has been left out of existing literary histories of the Restoration and early eighteenth century is a sense of authorship and readers that existed independently from the conventions and the restrictions of print and commercial texts." (24)
"our definitions of 'public' and 'private' sit awkwardly with the particulars of the readership of manuscript texts. We traditionally have used 'public' in the sense of meaning 'published' and 'private' in the sense of 'personal'. Here, we have texts whose readership was controlled through physical access to them rather than censorship imposed from an external agency and which was limited by the author's design, no matter (as we shall see in the discussion of literary piracy) how imperfect the control mechanisms actually were. On the other hand, they were not 'private' in the sense that their readership was restricted only to God and the author, or even to the author's immediate family. What we tend to see is a 'private' mode that, by its very nature, is permeated by 'public' moments of readership, when the text is circulated and copied. The text, although not univerally available to any puchasing reader, nevertheless engages in a 'social' function." (38-9)

the "intertwined nature of the private/public/social spheres" (39)

"By collpasing 'public' into 'publication,' we seriously misconstrue the literary practices of such women and overlook the importance of the social function of literature for women as well as men writing in the so-called Cavalier tradition." (39)
"the manuscript text operates as a medium of social exchange, often between the sexes, neither private nor public in the conventional sense of the terms, and a site at which women could and did comment on public issues concerning social and political matters" (40)
"manuscript culture was not the province of women, in opposition to print culture as being the domain of men" (40)
"One of the problems with our existing literary histories is that our current modes of analyzing authorship do not deal with this type of author who had no desire to publish or to 'go public,' except to form theories to explain the motivation behind what we see as authorial self-destruction." (42-3)
"we thus train our students to classify literary activity with print as the superior mode and to employ false gender dichotomies when interpreting early modern texts." (44)

Literary Pirates and Reluctant Authors: Some Peculiar Institutions of Authorship

pirated text -- stolen from author and printed without author's knowledge or consent; surreptitious publication -- author lies about his/her desire to be in print (46)

"By using terms such as piracy, which is derived from print culture for a manuscript phenomenon, I believe we have inflated a narrative of literary life in which no script was safe from the rapacious desire of a printer or bookseller, that even against the writer's will commercial print culture would have his or her text and violate his or her modesty, so dominant was this new technology." (59)

The Very Early Career of Alexander Pope

Getting into Print: London and the Social Author

not many more printing presses in latter 17c than in Elizabethan period (50 or 60 individual machines) (87)

"during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the negotiation between author and the purveyors of print technology tended to be one-on-one, individual, personal, and time-consuming, especially if it was a book-length project and if money was involved" (89)
"The numerous examples of dishonest booksellers, incompetent printers, and those natural disasters to which all advanced technologies seem heir highlight the minimal inducements to embrace print authorship in the 1690s and early 1700s, with its requisite travel, expenses, difficult technicians, lack of financial reward, and the sheer tedium of correcting." (96)
"Despite an increase in the number of presses, it was still a technology that required either residence in London or the freedom to travel and the finances to support it. Print cannot, under these conditions, be viewed as a more 'democratic' opportunity for those living in Leicestershire or Gloucestershire, or in Scotland or Ireland before 1695, where only a single press could be legally in operation. There is also a real question whether the shift from social authorship to commercial was more democratic or easier for women living virtually anywhere, with little financial or social independence to deal with a bookseller directly." (101-2)
"we are still in the dark concerning the practices of authors who sought a publisher but not an income from writing." (102)

Getting into Print: Literary Life outside London

"booksellers tended to be printing not what we would consider literary texts but instead theological ones, local political pieces, and medical texts" (107)
"Why should it be local ministers and physicians who made the most use of print in the provinces rather than the supposedly isolated poets?" (111)
"The literary author living outside London or the university towns was obviously affected by the lapse of the licensing act in the increasing flow of printed texts from London that became available in the provinces in the first half of the eighteenth century and in the founding of the first provincial newspapers. However, when one examines the types of texts that provincial booksellers and printers were themselves producing, it does not appear that literary authors found the new technology as immediately appealing or applicable to their practices of authorship as we have supposed." (121)

Making a Classic: The Advent of the Literary Series and the National Author