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While the term 'bestseller' explicitly relates books to sales, commercially successful books are also products of individual creative work. This Element presents a new perspective on the relationship between art and the market, with particular reference to bestselling writers and books. We examine some existing perspectives on art's relationship to the marketplace to trouble persistent binaries that see the two in opposition; we break down the monolith of the marketplace by thinking of it as made up of a range of invested, non-hostile participants such as publishing personnel and readers; we articulate the material dimensions of creative writing in the industry through the words of bestselling writers themselves; and we examine how the existence of bestselling books and writers in the world of letters bears enormous influence on the industry, and on the practice of other writers.
Most scholars regard Lin Yutang’s 1949 novel, Chinatown Family, as a failure. The novel did not sell many copies when it was published, and it failed to impress critics. Decades on, the novel has been largely dismissed as reactionary and crude by literary scholars, especially Asian Americanist critics. Readers then and now dismiss Lin’s attempts to create a definitive work of “Asian American literature” but this chapter carefully reconstructs the novel’s making in order to explore the potential affordances of Lin’s failure. What would it mean to take seriously the novel’s chief virtues, otherwise seen as limitations, such as “collaboration,” as the basis for rethinking the history of the Asian American novel, and where it might go today?
The proliferation of unauthorised arrangements was of concern to composers and publishers alike c.1800. The chapter considers this phenomenon, which was central to the creation and reception of arrangements. Publishing practices in Vienna are compared to other centers, taking account of the lines of national and international dissemination that Beethoven’s publishers employed. The absence of copyright law at this time is considered: only after Beethoven’s life time does one find the transference of ownership from publisher to composer, which severely reduced the liberties arrangers could take with their source materials, as well as the ability to disseminate any kind of copies legally. A case study is made of Karl (Carl, Charles) Zulehner (ca. 1770–1841), composer, publisher, copyist, and arranger. He was notorious for publishing several masses wrongly attributed to Mozart and for unauthorized publications of Beethoven’s music. These underhand dealings need not blind us to his talents as an arranger. Besides his string quartet arrangement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, Op. 21 (Simrock, 1828), which serves as a case study in this chapter.
The boom in arrangements in the early nineteenth century was partly a function of the enthusiasm of the publishers themselves, who recognised their sales potential, especially that of small-scale arrangements of large-scale works by increasingly well-known composers. But while publishers capitalised on the popularity of arrangements, they also helped fuel that popularity by making otherwise relatively inaccessible works readily available in comparably cheap editions, in this way helping with canon formation. This chapter studies four important publishers of early nineteenth-century arrangements, from Bonn (Simrock), Leipzig (Breitkopf and Härtel), and London (Lavenu and Monzani and Hill), considering the types of arrangements that they made or commissioned, how the arrangements of Beethoven’s symphonies they published fit into the market, and how they functioned in canon formation. Studying these publishers’ catalogues reveals the popularity of arrangements for varied chamber ensembles, alongside the highly popular piano transcriptions. Indeed, arrangements for chamber ensembles make up a substantial portion of published chamber music at this point.
The chapter considers an agreement between Beethoven and his publisher Steiner as a crucial moment in the history of musical publication. In 1816, Beethoven and Steiner had decided to issue Wellington’s Victory and the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies in arrangements for various combinations of chamber group simultaneously, and concurrent with the original orchestral edition in parts and score. Important here, and moving well outside publication ‘business as usual’, was the issuing of complete scores. These demonstrate the evolving conception of the musical work: silent score study would gradually replace the hands-on reception and construction of the musical work of the arrangements for chamber ensemble. It is also significant that this new publishing strategy began with Wellington’s Victory, which was thus treated as a significant work for study and performance, although it has tended to be marginalised as mere ‘occasional music’ after Beethoven’s time. In total there were eight different editions released at once for Wellington’s Victory (and the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies). This strategy shows comprehensiveness, musically and socially. But it was also a matter of economic sense.
This chapter covers Ibsen’s years in Rome (1864–8), Dresden (1868–75) and Munich (1875–80). Often presented as a voluntary ‘exile’, the move to Rome followed a general pattern of Norwegian authors and artists going abroad for training and studies. Ibsen’s prolonged stay had to do with his need to keep a distance from political pressures and conflicts in a small and transparent society. When he moved abroad, he also left the theatre as the institutional setting for his writings and transferred to the Danish publisher Gyldendal. Ibsen experienced his Scandinavian breakthrough in the book market with the verse dramas Brand (1866) and Peer Gynt (1867). Once again writing a play for performance, The League of Youth (1869), he ended up giving priority to the book. Throughout the rest of his career, Ibsen’s plays were issued as books before they were performed. The League of Youth became Ibsen’s breakthrough in the Scandinavian theatre, while at the same time initiating a rupture with the liberals in Norway. Ibsen’s conservatism became more outspoken throughout the 1870s, and, by the end of the decade, Ibsen had alienated himself from the emerging ‘Literary Left’, headed by Georg Brandes and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. Pillars of the Community (1877), however, seemed to signal a cautious reorientation.
This chapter focuses on the early British reception of Ibsen. It begins with Edmund Gosse’s early initiatives and Ibsen’s introduction to the English-speaking world. The next phase involves a group of socialists and feminists who in the 1880s made Ibsen their own, including Eleanor Marx, Olive Schreiner and George Bernard Shaw. Towards the end of that decade Ibsen experienced surprising success in book form, not least through William Archer’s translations. His breakthrough on the British stage came in 1889 and was followed by a number of intense years with many productions and publications. One notable feature of Ibsen’s stage success was the strong involvement of a number of actresses, who even took on the stage-management of his plays, not least Janet Achurch, Elizabeth Robins and Marion Lea. The most notorious event involved the 1891 performance of Ghosts at the Independent Theatre and involved brushes with the censor, while the production of Hedda Gabler was celebrated as a critical success. After the fierce cultural battles over Ibsen in the early 1890s, a swift canonization followed. The last part of the chapter briefly charts Ibsen’s association with the independent theatre sector, his place within the commercial London theatre and key publishing ventures.
The chapter explores the genre situation in Norway around the time of Ibsen’s debut, probing the question of why Ibsen chose to write within the genre of drama in his pursuit of a literary career. Particular political and cultural circumstances are relevant here: After centuries of foreign rule, the Norwegian cultural field was small and undeveloped when the country took up the impulses of national romanticism. In this situation, the theatre became an institution of political and cultural prestige, and constituted a forum for a cultural and literary debate that was still largely lacking in the printed press. Furthermore, the genre of drama was largely untarnished by the associations of sentimentality and femininity that still attached to the prose genres, and especially the novel. As for lyric poetry, it was a genre still not in line with the artistic ideals of romanticism, drawing heavily on classicist aesthetics, and particularly so after the death of the romantic poet Henrik Wergeland in 1845. Hence, drama would have appeared a safe genre for å budding poet, a genre that was modern, masculine, national and even potentially profitable.
In the early years of the twentieth century, Life magazine had only approximately one hundred thousand subscribers, yet its illustrated images (like the Gibson Girl) significantly influenced fashion trends and social behaviors nationally. Its outsized influence can be explained by examining the magazine’s business practices, particularly the novel ways in which it treated and conceptualized its images as intellectual property. While other magazines relied on their circulation and advertising revenue to attain profitability, Life used its page space to sell not only ads, but also its own creative components—principally illustrations—to manufacturers of consumer goods, advertisers, and consumers themselves. In so doing, Life’s publishers relied on a developing legal conception of intellectual property and copyright, one that was not always amenable to their designs. By looking at a quasi-litigious disagreement in which a candy manufacturing company attempted to copy one of the magazine’s images, this article explores the mechanisms behind the commodification and distribution of mass-circulated images.
Shortly after publishing three poems in the New Statesman in 1964, Seamus Heaney received a letter from Charles Monteith, poetry editor of the prestigious London publishing house Faber and Faber, which he later said ‘was like getting mail from the Almighty God’. Heaney went on to publish not only with Faber, but also with numerous small presses, foremost among them the Gallery Press in Ireland. Concentrating on the publication of Heaney’s poetry in book form, from Death of a Naturalist (Faber, 1966) to The Last Walk (Gallery, 2013), this chapter considers how the poet’s self-reflexive engagement with print both expressed and furthered his faith in literature. This consideration pairs attention to Heaney’s metaphors for publication, including in such poems as ‘Broagh’ and ‘The Bookcase’, with a few striking instances of the material forms his work has taken.
Modern literary prizes date from the Nobel Prize in Literature, first awarded in 1901. In France, the Prix Goncourt followed in 1903 and by mid-century numerous others had been established, many of which garner significant public interest to this day. This chapter considers French book prizes, their progressive commercialization heralded by the development of new media in the early twentieth century, and the question of their reliability as indicators of literary quality and durability. It examines the development of the practice as well as the politics of awarding prizes, the relative success of individual publishers, authors and works, and how this feeds into the wider concerns of literary history. The award of prizes is considered against the shifting political currents of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This historical examination evokes well-known names as well as many now largely forgotten.
The First World War led to the largest boom in published American war books since the Civil War. War memoirs were popular with both publishers and readers alike. Hundreds of returning doughboys took to their pens and published accounts of fighting in France. Joining them were books by nurses and canteen workers who also told stories of their experiences at the front supporting the Allied war effort. This chapter examines war memoirs published both during and after the war. It considers trends in martial publishing and argues that the wealth of war-relating writing created a cultural footprint of American war books that rested somewhat uneasily as feelings about the First World War changed in the 1920s. Moreover, the variety of war memoirs released further complicates notions of a uniform American experience in print. Rather, there is tension between books celebrating American and Allied victory with those that emphasize the hard-fought realities of combat on the western front.
African American writers, artists, historians, and activists of the interwar period expended substantial energy to refute a widely held idea that US slavery was relatively benign. Among black American writers, it was poets – for commercial reasons and reasons to do with genre – who took up the topic of enslavement most often. Some wrote poems about the pride they took in the survival of their forebears. Others argued, in poetry, that trauma inflicted by enslavement required them to break free of its enduring spell. A third group, including Langston Hughes, Anne Spencer, and Jessie Fauset, used poetry to call into question the norms of contemporary history writing and of rules of evidence. African American poets in this group used poetry to create a new archive of enslaved people’s experiences and narratives.
This chapter argues that, during the First World War, personal, partial, emotive and literary practices were fundamental to how transatlantic discourses about the war were managed, maintained, and ultimately resolved in favor of the Anglo-American alliance. It examines the different ways writers - for example, Rupert Brooke, John Masefield, Bertrand Russell, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Robert Frost - were mobilized by institutions like Wellington House, universities, newspapers and publishers. It considers writers’ and poets’ contributions to overlapping official and unofficial propaganda networks, and how this cultural exchange worked to “sell” particular interpretations and experiences of the conflict to reading publics.
Although characterized by generational shifts in terms of articulating cultural affiliations and attachments to both the Caribbean and Britain, Caribbean British writing remains deeply marked by issues of un/belonging. This essay explores this embedded thematic across changing political contexts and reads the transitions in Caribbean British literature that have brought different revisionary perspectives on literary forms and languages, post-Windrush British history and the much deeper historical connections between the Caribbean presence and the UK. As well as contesting racism, these works articulate intersectional identities informed by class, gender and sexuality as it is experienced within and across the UK and the Caribbean. Given that contemporary Caribbean British literature is very much connected with Caribbean literature and that of the larger diaspora, this essay considers the modes of critical attention necessary to engage with its new forms and platforms.
This Element describes for the first time the database of peer review reports at PLOS ONE, the largest scientific journal in the world, to which the authors had unique access. Specifically, this Element presents the background contexts and histories of peer review, the data-handling sensitivities of this type of research, the typical properties of reports in the journal to which the authors had access, a taxonomy of the reports, and their sentiment arcs. This unique work thereby yields a compelling and unprecedented set of insights into the evolving state of peer review in the twenty-first century, at a crucial political moment for the transformation of science. It also, though, presents a study in radicalism and the ways in which PLOS's vision for science can be said to have effected change in the ultra-conservative contemporary university. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
The Frankfurt Book Fair is the leading global industry venue for rights sales, facilitating business-to-buzzness deals and international networks. In this Element, we pursue an Ullapoolist approach to excavate beneath the production of bestsellers at the Fair. Our investigation involved three consecutive years of fieldwork (2017–2019) including interviews and autoethnographic, arts-informed interventions. The Element argues that buzz at the Fair exists in two states: as market-ready media reports and partial, lived experiences linked to mood. The physical structures and absences of the Fair enact its power relations and direct the flow of books and buzz. Further, the Fair is not only a site for commercial exchange but a carnival of sorts, marked by disruptive historical events and problematic socio-political dynamics. Key themes emerging from the Element are the presence of excess, the pseudo(neo)liberal self-satisfaction of book culture, and the interplay of optimism and pessimism in contemporary publishing.
This essay looks at the innovations in poetry and poetry publishing from 2001 to 2018, with a particular emphasis on the emerging generation of Indigenous poets like Sherwin Bitsui, Orlando White, Natalie Diaz, and Layli Long Soldier. While paying close attention to the themes and motifs that have been of interest to Native writers, this essay foregrounds innovations in poetic form, including erasures and strikethroughs, complicated syntax, and typographical experimentation. A good deal of recent Native poetry takes on English and its rules and structures as a tool of colonization, repression, identification, and misinformation, and in so doing, seeks to remake English so that it might be viewed through an Indigenous lens.
Bibliometric methods were used to analyse the major research trends, themes and topics over the last 30 years in the parasitology discipline. The tools used were SciMAT, VOSviewer and SWIFT-Review in conjunction with the parasitology literature contained in the MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus and Dimensions databases. The analyses show that the major research themes are dynamic and continually changing with time, although some themes identified based on keywords such as malaria, nematode, epidemiology and phylogeny are consistently referenced over time. We note the major impact of countries like Brazil has had on the literature of parasitology research. The increase in recent times of research productivity on ‘antiparasitics’ is discussed, as well as the change in emphasis on different antiparasitic drugs and insecticides over time. In summary, innovation in parasitology is global, extensive, multidisciplinary, constantly evolving and closely aligned with the availability of technology.