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Literary Manuscript Culture in Romantic Britain$
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Michelle Levy

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474457064

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474457064.001.0001

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Literary Reviews and the Reception of Manuscript Culture

Literary Reviews and the Reception of Manuscript Culture

(p.64) Chapter 2 Literary Reviews and the Reception of Manuscript Culture
Literary Manuscript Culture in Romantic Britain

Michelle Levy

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 2 examines how literary reviews engaged in debates about what should appear in print. As reviewers encountered large quantities of published literary writing, some of which had identifiable origins in sociable manuscript culture, they faced both a practical problem – how to keep up with the rising tide of new publications – and an ethical dilemma – how to respond to the proliferation of print. Did the large increases in literary print publication (and the increasing number of authors entering print) signal a decline in taste and a degeneration of literary standards, or the enlightened progress of society and the improvement of literary taste? This chapter compares the reviewing practices and editorial policies in the Edinburgh Review, which was outspoken in its criticism of the publication of manuscript writing, and the Annual Review, which was tolerant of all literary productions. Specifically, it finds that the Edinburgh constructed print as a public medium and, by necessary contrast, manuscript as a private one, a division that came to be understood as intrinsic to script and print, rather than what it was, a product of an ideological dispute, fought in part in the pages of the literary reviews.

Keywords:   Literary Reviews, Literary Taste, Proliferation of Print, Publicity of Print, Edinburgh Review, Annual Review

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