By Richard B. Sher
The overdue eighteenth century witnessed an explosion of highbrow task in Scotland through such luminaries as David Hume, Adam Smith, Hugh Blair, William Robertson, Adam Ferguson, James Boswell, and Robert Burns. And the books written via those seminal thinkers made an important mark in the course of their time in virtually each box of well mannered literature and better studying all through Britain, Europe, and the Americas. In this magisterial background, Richard B. Sher breaks new flooring for our knowing of the Enlightenment and the forgotten function of publishing in the course of that interval. The Enlightenment and the e-book seeks to therapy the typical misperception that such classics because the Wealth of countries and The lifetime of Samuel Johnson have been written through authors who eyed their publishers as minor functionaries of their occupation. on the contrary, Sher indicates how the method of bookmaking throughout the overdue eighteenth-century concerned a deeply advanced partnership among authors and their publishers, one within which writers observed the publication not just as pivotal within the dissemination in their rules, but additionally as the most important to their goals of popularity and fiscal achieve. equally, Sher demonstrates that publishers have been inquisitive about the undertaking of bookmaking on the way to improve human wisdom in addition to to amass profits. The Enlightenment and the publication explores this rigidity among creativity and trade that also exists in scholarly publishing this present day. Lavishly illustrated and assuredly conceived, it is going to be needs to interpreting for somebody attracted to the heritage of the e-book or the construction and diffusion of Enlightenment suggestion.
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Extra resources for The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Ireland, and America
Yet the book history of the Enlightenment, especially the English-language Enlightenment, remains a story waiting to be told. The second half of the eighteenth century was a particularly interesting time for author–publisher relations. It not only signified the beginning of modern notions of authorship as a commercial category but also marked a critical transitional era for publishers. During this period, substantial publishing houses emerged in Britain, but they were not yet the large, impersonal, specialized entities they would later become.
Has Johns given us the key to “the nature of the book” in general, or merely a rich history of the making of one genre of books in one particular time and place? London remained the undisputed capital of the English-language book trade during the late eighteenth century, and Johns is surely correct about the contextual nature of book culture and the need for empirical investigation of local circumstances, in London as well as in every other site of publication and reception. But the development and diffusion of Enlightenment book culture cannot be explained by a local, or even a comparative, model, let alone a model that is limited to a single species of knowledge in one particular time.
57 In all these fields of intellectual activity, and others too, a good case can be made for regarding eighteenth-century Scottish thinkers as among the most innovative, eminent, and influential authors of their day. 58 Equally remarkable is the fact that so much of this literature was written by individuals who associated with each other, socially and professionally, in the urban centers of Scotland, and sometimes also in London, and moved easily as authors from one enlightened genre to another.