Those in the book business argue otherwise, defending their actions even while occasionally backpedaling. In his bold and far-reaching study, Michael Everton makes clear that such ethical debates about the book trade go all the way back to the eighteenth century. The Grand Chorus of Complaint is a book of great importance, insight, and originality.
Moving beyond the analysis of commercial practices, Everton imaginatively demonstrates that the business relationships between authors and publishers were fundamentally shaped by moral expectations. A thoroughly researched, well-written, and smartly argued work of mature scholarship Literary, cultural, and intellectual historians as well as students of business practices and ethics could all profit from reading this book.
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When Lord Byron toasted Napoleon for executing a bookseller, and when American satirist Fitz-Greene Halleck picketed his New York publisher for trying to starve him, both writers were taking part in a time-honored tradition-styling publishers as unregenerate capitalists. However apocryphal, both stories speak to the longstanding feud between writers and publishers over how the book business ought to be conducted. Such grumblings were so constant throughout the nineteenth century that Horace Greeley wearily referred to them collectively as "the grand chorus of complaint. Michael Everton shows that the moral discourse authors and publishers used in these debates was not intended as a distraction from debates over economics, intellectual property, or gender in American literary culture.
Instead, morality was itself at issue. With case studies of the fraught publication experiences of authors including Thomas Paine, Hannah Adams, Herman Melville, Fanny Fern, and Gail Hamilton, Everton argues that in their business correspondence and fiction, in their diaries and essays, authors and publishers talked so much about ethics not to obfuscate their convictions but to clarify them in a commercial world preoccupied by the meanings and efficacy of moral beliefs. The Grand Chorus of Complaint illustrates that ethics should matter as much to book historians as much as it has come to matter-again-to literary critics and theorists.
Through wide-ranging primary-source research backed by a nuanced layering of historical detail, The Grand Chorus of Complaint dissects the role of morality in the print culture of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America, providing a valuable new perspective on formative forces in the publishing trade. See All Customer Reviews.
Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Usually ships within 1 week. Overview When Lord Byron toasted Napoleon for executing a bookseller, and when American satirist Fitz-Greene Halleck picketed his New York publisher for trying to starve him, both writers were taking part in a time-honored tradition-styling publishers as unregenerate capitalists. About the Author Michael J. Paul Gilmore. The Captive Stage. Douglas A Jones. Audrey Fisch.
The Grand Chorus of Complaint: Authors and the Business Ethics of American Publishing
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