By Sacvan Bercovitch
The narratives during this quantity make for a four-fold point of view on literature: social, cultural, highbrow, and aesthetic; they represent a easy reassessment of yank prose-writing among 1820 and 1865. those narratives position the yankee literature in a world context, whereas by no means wasting sight of its distinct American features, even if colonial, provincial, or nationwide. jointly, they provide a compelling and finished revision of the literary value of early American background and the ancient price of early American literature.
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Extra info for The Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. 2: Prose Writing, 1820-1865
Access to the interior market was itself no guarantee of success; there were still basic problems in the business of publishing to be worked out. In the 1820s, for instance, most so-called publishers were both printers and booksellers, wholesalers and retailers, and inevitably there was conflict between these two functions. A firm's tendency as retailer to monopolize sales of its own titles restricted wholesale distribution of those titles; a popular book would often be available at only one store even in a large city.
In the United States, Van Winkle produced the same number of editions between 1819 and 1826. In the next sixteen years there were nine more American reprints, and since he was living in England, Irving was able to reap returns from both American and British sales. He had indeed found "solid credit with the public," and he rapidly sought additional returns. Bracebridge Hall, also attributed to Geoffrey Crayon, appeared in 1822. Although it did not achieve the huge popularity of The Sketch Book, of which it was an obvious imitation, it came close, and Murray paid 1,200 guineas for the right to publish it in England.
In an era of low book prices such recirculation of earlier titles was a shrewd way of maximizing earnings, far preferable to producing new works at the pace necessary, by the 1840s, to sustain an income comparable to the scale of the 1820s. And Putnam's "Author's Revised Edition" managed to sell almost 150,000 copies by 1853, netting Irving $22,000. " He was still a celebrity when he 24 CONDITIONS OF LITERARY VOCATION died, and his example had clearly inspired many other Americans to regard literature as a possible profession.
The Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. 2: Prose Writing, 1820-1865 by Sacvan Bercovitch