The Textual Condition of Nineteenth-Century Literature
In this important new book, Guy and Small develop a new account of literary creativity in the late nineteenth century, one that combines concepts generated by text-theorists concerning the embodied nature of textuality with the empirical insights of text-editors and book historians. Through these developments, which the authors term the ‘textual turn,’ this study examines the textual condition of nineteenth-century literature. The authors explore works by Dickens, Wilde, Hardy, Yeats, Swinburne, FitzGerald, Pater, Arnold, Pinero and Shaw, connecting questions about what a work textually ‘is’ with questions about why we read it and how we value it. The study asks whether the textual turn places us in a stronger position to analyze the value of a nineteenth-century text—not for readers of the nineteenth century, but of the twenty-first. The authors argue that this issue of value is central to their discipline.
"In their examination of the relationship between the literary value assigned to a work and its ‘textual condition,’ Josephine Guy and Ian Small write against the grain in a turn away from concern for ‘literariness’ and what a work is to an interrogation of the processes and conditions through which it was realized…the authors…give us some understanding of the complex and yet fascinating indeterminacy of texts in the Victorian period." --Kerry Powell, Miami University, English Literature in Transition, 1880–1920