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Cheap ModernismExpanding Markets, Publishers' Series and the Avant-Garde$
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Lise Jaillant

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474417242

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474417242.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 03 July 2022

‘Introductions by eminent writers’: T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf in the Oxford World’s Classics Series

‘Introductions by eminent writers’: T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf in the Oxford World’s Classics Series

(p.22) 1 ‘Introductions by eminent writers’: T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf in the Oxford World’s Classics Series
Cheap Modernism

Lise Jaillant

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter focuses on the introductions that T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf wrote for the Oxford World’s Classics editions of Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone and Laurence Sterne’s Sentimental Journey (both published in 1928). Oxford University Press, whose London branch bought the World’s Classics from Grant Richards in 1905, was known for its Bibles and scholarly works, not for literary experimentation. So why would such a staid publisher include an introduction by Eliot, a writer with “a sustained interest in rotting orifices”? Why would a series associated with an old English university value the opinion of Woolf, who repeatedly criticised the patriarchal structure of the academic system? This chapter argues that, by the late 1920s, Woolf and Eliot had become well-known names recognisable by the lower middle class, the self-educated and other readers of the World’s Classics. They lent their growing reputation to boost sales of reprints, and in turn, they benefited from their association with a large-scale publishing enterprise (including access to a wide American readership). The World’s Classics contributed to transforming the image of these modernist writers from infamous avant-gardists to members of the artistic establishment.

Keywords:   T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Oxford World’s Classics Series

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