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English and British Fiction, 1750-1820

The Oxford History of the Novel in English is a 12-volume series presenting a comprehensive, global, and up-to-date history of English-language prose fiction and written by a large, international team of scholars. The series is concerned with novels as a whole, not just the ‘literary’ novel, and each volume includes chapters on the processes of production, distribution, and reception, and on popular fiction and the fictional sub-genres, as well as outlining the work of major novelists, movements, traditions, and tendencies.
Volume 2 examines the period from1750-1820, which was a crucial period in the development of the novel in English. Not only was it the time of Smollett, Sterne, Austen, and Scott, but it also saw the establishment and definition of the novel as we know it, as well as the emergence of a number of subgenres, several of which remain to this day. Conventionally however, it has been one of the least studied areas-seen as a falling off from the heyday of Richardson and Fielding, or merely a prelude to the great Victorian novelists. This volume takes full advantage of recent major advances in scholarly bibliography, new critical assessments, and the fresh availability of long-neglected fictional works, to offer a new mapping and appraisal. The opening section, as well as some remarkable later chapters, consider historical conditions underlying the production, circulation, and reception of fiction during these seventy years, a period itself marked by a rapid growth in output and expansion in readership. Other chapters cover the principal forms, movements, and literary themes of the period, with individual contributions on the four major novelists (named above), seen in historical context, as well as others on adjacent fields such as the shorter tale, magazine fiction, children’s literature, and drama. The volume also views the novel in the light of other major institutions of modern literary culture, including book reviewing and the reprint trade, all of which played a part in advancing a sense of the novel as a defining feature of the British cultural landscape. A focus on ‘global’ literature and imported fiction in two concluding chapters in turn reflects a broader concern for transnational literary studies in general.

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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines

The first of three volumes charting the history of the Modernist Magazine in Britain, North America, and Europe, this collection offers the first comprehensive study of the wide and varied range of ‘little magazines’ which were so instrumental in introducing the new writing and ideas that came to constitute literary and artistic modernism in the UK and Ireland. In thirty-seven chapters covering over eighty magazines expert contributors investigate the inner dynamics and economic and intellectual conditions that governed the life of these fugitive but vibrant publications. We learn of the role of editors and sponsors, the relation of the arts to contemporary philosophy and politics, the effects of war and economic depression and of the survival in hard times of radical ideas and a belief in innovation. The chapters are arranged according to historical themes with accompanying contextual introductions, and include studies of the New Age, Blast, the Egoist and the Criterion, New Writing, New Verse , and Scrutiny as well as of lesser known magazines such as the Evergreen, Coterie, the Bermondsey Book, the Mask, Welsh Review, the Modern Scot, and the Bell. To return to the pages of these magazines returns us a world where the material constraints of costs and anxieties over censorship and declining readerships ran alongside the excitement of a new poem or manifesto. This collection therefore confirms the value of magazine culture to the field of modernist studies; it provides a rich and hitherto under-examined resource which both brings to light the debate and dialogue out of which modernism evolved and helps us recover the vitality and potential of that earlier discussion.

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A History of English Literature

A History of English Literature has received exceptional reviews. Tracing the development of one of the world’s richest literatures from the Old English period through to the present day, the narrative discusses a wide range of key authors but never loses its clarity or verve.
 
Building on the book’s established reputation and success, the third edition has been revised and updated throughout. It now provides a full final chapter on the contemporary scene, with more on genres and the impact of globalization.

Features of this best-selling book include:
• a helpful overview of each chapter
• boxed biographies of authors, and tables of publications and historical events
• on-page definitions of important terms and concepts
• suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter to aid study
• portraits of authors, illustrations, maps and an index.

A History of English Literature remains the essential companion for anyone wishing to follow the unfolding of writing in England from its beginnings. It is ideal for those who know a few landmark texts, but little of the literary landscape that surrounds them; those who want to know what English literature consists of; and those who simply want to read its fascinating story.

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The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period

During the four centuries when printed paper was the only means by which texts could be carried across time and distance, everyone engaged in politics, education, religion, and literature believed that reading helped to shape the minds, opinions, attitudes, and ultimately the actions, of readers. In this 2004 book, William St Clair investigates how the national culture can be understood through a quantitative study of the books that were actually read. Centred on the Romantic period in the English-speaking world, but ranging across the whole print era, it reaches startling conclusions about the forces that determined how ideas were carried, through print, into wider society. St Clair provides an in-depth investigation of information, made available here for the first time, on prices, print runs, intellectual property, and readerships gathered from over fifty publishing and printing archives. He offers a picture of the past very different from those presented by traditional approaches. Indispensable to students of English literature, book history, and the history of ideas, the study’s conclusions and explanatory models are highly relevant to the issues we face in the age of the internet.

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The Oxford Handbook of the Eighteenth-Century Novel

Although the emergence of the English novel is generally regarded as an eighteenth-century phenomenon, this is the first book to be published professing to cover the ‘eighteenth-century English novel’ in its entirety. This Handbook surveys the development of the English novel during the ‘long’ eighteenth century-in other words, from the later seventeenth century right through to the first three decades of the nineteenth century when, with the publication of the novels of Jane Austen and Walter Scott, ‘the novel’ finally gained critical acceptance and assumed the position of cultural hegemony it enjoyed for over a century. By situating the novels of the period which are still read today against the background of the hundreds published between 1660 and 1830, this Handbook not only covers those ‘masters and mistresses’ of early prose fiction-such as Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Sterne, Burney, Scott and Austen-who are still acknowledged to be seminal figures in the emergence and development of the English novel, but also the significant number of recently-rediscovered novelists who were popular in their own day. At the same time, its comprehensive coverage of cultural contexts not considered by any existing study, but which are central to the emergence of the novel, such as the book trade and the mechanics of book production, copyright and censorship, the growth of the reading public, the economics of culture both in London and in the provinces, and the re-printing of popular fiction after 1774, offers unique insight into the making of the English novel.

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The Enlightenment and the Book

The late eighteenth century witnessed an explosion of intellectual activity in Scotland by such luminaries as David Hume, Adam Smith, Hugh Blair, William Robertson, Adam Ferguson, James Boswell, and Robert Burns. And the books written by these seminal thinkers made a significant mark during their time in almost every field of polite literature and higher learning throughout Britain, Europe, and the Americas. 

In this magisterial history, Richard B. Sher breaks new ground for our understanding of the Enlightenment and the forgotten role of publishing during that period. The Enlightenment and the Book seeks to remedy the common misperception that such classics as The Wealth of Nations and The Life of Samuel Johnson were written by authors who eyed their publishers as minor functionaries in their profession. To the contrary, Sher shows how the process of bookmaking during the late eighteenth-century involved a deeply complex partnership between authors and their publishers, one in which writers saw the book industry not only as pivotal in the dissemination of their ideas, but also as crucial to their dreams of fame and monetary gain. Similarly, Sher demonstrates that publishers were involved in the project of bookmaking in order to advance human knowledge as well as to accumulate profits. 

The Enlightenment and the Book explores this tension between creativity and commerce that still exists in scholarly publishing today. Lavishly illustrated and elegantly conceived, it will be must reading for anyone interested in the history of the book or the production and diffusion of Enlightenment thought.

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The Art of Writing Fiction

The Art of Writing Fiction guides the reader through the processes of creative writing from journal-keeping to editing, offering techniques for stimulating creativity and making language vivid. Readers will master key aspects of fiction such as structure, character, voice and setting.

Andrew Cowan provides an insightful introduction that brings his own well-crafted prose style to bear on the processes and pleasures of writing fiction, offering practical and personal advice culled from his own experience and that of other published writers. He lays open to the reader his own notes, his writing, and the experiences from his own life that he has drawn on in his fiction allowing the reader to develop their own writing project alongside the author as they go through the book.

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The Oxford History of the Irish Book, Volume V

The Oxford History of the Irish Book is a major new series that charts one of the most venerable book cultures in Europe, from the earliest manuscript compilations to the flourishing book industries of the late twentieth century. For the first time, it offers a history of the Irish book as a created object situated in a world of communications, trade, transport, power, and money, and examines the ways in which books have both reflected and influenced social, political, and intellectual formations in Ireland. It is an important project for the understanding of Ireland’s written and printed heritage, and is by its nature of profound cross-cultural significance, embracing as it does all the written and printed traditions and heritages of Ireland and placing them in the global context of a worldwide interest in book histories. Books have played a role of key importance in shaping Ireland’s twentieth century cultural and political heritage. Volume V: The Irish Book in English 1891-2000 charts that heritage from the beginnings of the Literary Revival in the 1890s to the end of the twentieth century. Part One consists of general survey chapters which examine developments in the cultures of Irish reading and publishing during the twentieth century. These chapters cover four specific periods, divided as follows: 1891-1921 covering the Literary Revival, and the often turbulent developments which led to the partition of the island; 1922-1939 looking at the social, economic and political machinations of print culture amidst an atmosphere of intense cultural conservatism, and during the so called economic ‘war’; 1939-1969 examining the difficulties which Irish publishers continued to face, as well as the popular trends of reading ‘Westerns’; 1969-2000 looking at the renewal of the Irish publishing industry, and the growth of cultural self-confidence which came about as literary censorship receded into the past. Part Two examines some of the thematic issues raised in these survey chapters, including the financial and market factors governing the Irish book trade; the concerns of Irish regional publishing; the creation and reception of Irish books in the US and Australia; censorship; the Irish book in the informatics age; and publishing for Catholic Ireland. Part Three is concerned with assessing the specific achievements of some of Ireland’s most culturally significant publishing houses, and includes chapters on Gill and Macmillan; the Cuala Press; Maunsel and Company; the Dolmen Press; the Gallery Press and Blackstaff Press. This section also includes chapters on two British firms which have done much to support Irish writers: Macmillan and Faber. The book concludes with a bibliographical chapter outlining ‘Sources for Irish Book History, 1891-2000’. This is the first attempt to comprehensively outline the history of twentieth century Irish book culture, and will be the standard guide for many years to come.

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Irishness and Womanhood in Nineteenth-Century British Writing

In The Wild Irish Girl, the powerful Irish heroine’s marriage to a heroic Englishman symbolizes the Anglo-Irish novelist Lady Morgan’s re-imagining of the relationship between Ireland and Britain and between men and women. Using this most influential of pro-union novels as his point of departure, Thomas J. Tracy argues that nineteenth-century debates over what constitutes British national identity often revolved around representations of Irishness, especially Irish womanhood. He maps out the genealogy of this development, from Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent through Trollope’s Irish novels, focusing on the pivotal period from 1806 through the 1870s. Tracy’s model enables him to elaborate the ways in which gender ideals are specifically contested in fiction, the discourses of political debate and social reform, and the popular press, for the purpose of defining not only the place of the Irish in the union with Great Britain, but the nature of Britishness itself.

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British and Irish Women Writers and the Women’s Movement

This study pairs selected Irish and British women novelists of three periods, relating their voices to the women’s movements in their respective nations. In the first wave, nationalist and militant ideologies competed with the suffrage fight in Ireland. Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September illustrates the melancholy of gender performance and confusion of ethnic identity in the dying Anglo-Irish Ascendancy class. In England, suffrage ideologies clashed with socialism and patriotism. Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway contains a political unconscious that links its characters across class and gender.
In the second wave, heterosexual romantic relationships come under scrutiny. Edna O’Brien’s Country Girls trilogy reveals ways in which Irish Catholic ideologies abject femaleness; her characters internalize this abjection to the point of self-destruction. Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook pits the protagonist’s aspirations to write novels against the Communist Party’s prohibitions on bourgeois values.
In the third wave, Irish writers express the frustrations of their cultural identity. Nuala O’Faolain’s My Dream of You takes her protagonist back to Ireland to heal her psychic wounds. In England, Thatcherism had created a materialistic culture that eroded many feminists’ socialist values. Fay Weldon’s Big Woman satirizes the demise of second-wave idealism, asking where feminism can go from here.