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The Work and the Reader in Literary Studies
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Book description

By the late 1980s the concept of the work had slipped out of sight, consigned to its last refuge in the library catalogue as concepts of discourse and text took its place. Scholarly editors, who depended on it, found no grounding in literary theory for their practice. But fundamental ideas do not go away, and the work is proving to be one of them. New interest in the activity of the reader in the work has broadened the concept, extending it historically and sweeping away its once-supposed aesthetic objecthood. Concurrently, the advent of digital scholarly editions is recasting the editorial endeavour. The Work and The Reader in Literary Studies tests its argument against a range of book-historically inflected case-studies from Hamlet editions to Romantic poetry archives to the writing practices of Joseph Conrad and D. H. Lawrence. It newly justifies the practice of close reading in the digital age.


‘Eggert's evident expertise and genuine passion for the subject underpins a volume of true worth. The Work and The Reader in Literary Studies offers an informed reflection of scholarly editing, book history and literary studies by a textual editor of international standing. It is a welcome addition to the field of textual studies, exploring the possibilities of the discipline and re-envisioning the role of the scholarly editor.'

Allan H. Simmons - St Mary's University and General Editor of the series The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Joseph Conrad

‘Advancing a literary-aware form of book history and a book-historically informed literary criticism, Paul Eggert's The Work and The Reader in Literary Studies presents one of the finest and best-argued editorial theories textual scholarship has seen since the beginning of the twenty-first century.'

Dirk Van Hulle - Universiteit Antwerpen

‘We can imagine Eggert’s digitally deployed work-concept as … an assembly in cyberspace-time, a gathering of minds around a matter of common concern.’

Christine Froula Source: Textual Cultures

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