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Pegasus in Harness

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Pegasus in Harness


Paperback / softback

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Pegasus in Harness by Peter L. Shillingsburg
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In this fresh look at the relationship between an author and his publishers, Peter L. Shillingsburg reassesses W.M. Thackeray's writing within the context of the Victorian marketplace. He explores the forces under which Thackeray wrote, and addresses the broader question of the extent to which authors are free to invent their books given the influences of theoretical trends and the publishing marketplace. Rejecting both the Romantic notion of the autonomous genius and the Marxist concept of social and economic determinism, Shillingsburg presents a concept of the artist as being, simultaneously, bound and free, a ""Pegasus in harness"". In addition to being an intense examination of the contractual relations between Thackeray and several publishers, Pegasus in Harness presents a compendium of information about Victorian book production, publishing and bookselling. Shillingsburg's analysis of book production is an example of original research that goes far beyond anything currently available. His documentation includes extensive quotations from 350 unpublished letters between Thackeray and his publishers and copies of all the surviving contracts for Thackeray's books. Contrary to popular opinion about Thackeray, Shillingsburg portrays him as a thoroughly professional writer. He traces Thackeray's economic progression and unfolds the development of Thackeray's notion of authorship as a dignified trade in which compromises were constantly being struck between the aspirations of the author and the realities of the marketplace. In this assessment, the social and contractual forces that both enabled and limited the writing and publishing of books influenced but did not control the artist. A synthesis of theory, history, biography and sociology, this book looks at the way in which literary texts are created, published and marketed, and explores how they can be shaped by the cultural conditions surrounding their creation.
Release date Australia
January 30th, 2015
Country of Publication
United States
University of Virginia Press
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