Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 27 (1996) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/
Literature in the Marketplace is a significant contribution to nineteenth-century studies and an important addition to recent work in the field of cultural production. The essays in this collection draw on a range of theoretical positions (materialist, historicist, feminist, poststructuralist) in discussing the publishing history, readership, modes of production, market trends and authorship of several literary artifacts including triple-deckers, periodicals, valentines, illustrations and advertisements. There is something of interest here for all students and scholars of Victorian literature and culture.
As the editors note in their introduction, the broadly defined field of publishing history is not unified; there is no agreement on what constitutes the field of study or what methodological procedures and tools ought to be brought to bear on literary culture. They carefully map out the diverse work that has already been undertaken, from studies of institutions, such as publishing houses and circulating libraries, to studies of modes of production and bibliography. As the increasing amount of work in the field indicates, there is a complexity of issues which need to be considered: the relation between text and image, the impact of market forces on production, the intertextual connections between genres and across literary forms, the role of gender and class in textual interpretation, to name a few.