The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Ireland, and America

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University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 842 pages
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The late eighteenth century witnessed an explosion of intellectual activity in Scotland by such luminaries as David Hume, Adam Smith, Hugh Blair, William Robertson, Adam Ferguson, James Boswell, and Robert Burns. And the books written by these seminal thinkers made a significant mark during their time in almost every field of polite literature and higher learning throughout Britain, Europe, and the Americas. 

In this magisterial history, Richard B. Sher breaks new ground for our understanding of the Enlightenment and the forgotten role of publishing during that period. The Enlightenment and the Book seeks to remedy the common misperception that such classics as The Wealth of Nations and The Life of Samuel Johnson were written by authors who eyed their publishers as minor functionaries in their profession. To the contrary, Sher shows how the process of bookmaking during the late eighteenth-century involved a deeply complex partnership between authors and their publishers, one in which writers saw the book industry not only as pivotal in the dissemination of their ideas, but also as crucial to their dreams of fame and monetary gain. Similarly, Sher demonstrates that publishers were involved in the project of bookmaking in order to advance human knowledge as well as to accumulate profits. 

The Enlightenment and the Book explores this tension between creativity and commerce that still exists in scholarly publishing today. Lavishly illustrated and elegantly conceived, it will be must reading for anyone interested in the history of the book or the production and diffusion of Enlightenment thought.

 

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The Enlightenment & the book: Scottish authors & their publishers in eighteenth-century Britain, Ireland, & America

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In 1757, when philosopher David Hume boasted that the Scots were "the People most distinguish'd for Literature in Europe," he was undoubtedly pitching it a bit strong. But as Sher (Church and ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Designs and Disclaimers
25
Part I Scottish Authors in a World of Books
41
Part II Publishing the Scottish Enlightenment in London and Edinburgh
263
Part III Reprinting the Scottish Enlightenment in Dublin and Philadelphia
441
Tables
611
Bibliography
709
Index
757
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Richard B. Sher is Distinguished Professor of History at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is the author of Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment: The Moderate Literati of Edinburgh.

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