This study addresses the appearance of literary illustration in reprintings of eighteenth-century fiction, paying particular attention to The British Novelists, an unillustrated collection edited by Anna Letitia Barbauld. Previous analysis of The British Novelists has failed to grant due attention to the aesthetic choices of this publication project. In order to fill that gap, several questions drive my inquiry: Why is Barbauld’s reproduction of these novels so minimally decorated? What aesthetic decisions did Barbauld and her publishers at the Rivington House make in reproducing these novelists’ works? Is it possible to discern what prompted these decisions or to relate them to a certain trajectory, one that marks Barbauld’s place in the editorial tradition? Through the course of this analysis, I will propose a series of scenarios to address the rationale behind this unillustrated collection of novels.
These hypotheses investigate Barbauld’s novelistic preferences and editorial capabilities, providing a greater insight into the framing of The British Novelists project. To this point, relatively little work has addressed Barbauld’s editorial role, with this or any collection. The scenarios presented in this study will attempt to rectify this void, drawing attention to this minimally graphic endeavor. An understanding of these editorial decisions will inform our discussion of literary illustration and enhance our understanding of the collaborative efforts necessary in book publication.
|Keywords:||Literary Illustration, Eighteenth-Century Collected Fiction, Publication History, Collaboration|
PhD Student, Department of English, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri, USA
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