Making the English Canon: Print-Capitalism and the Cultural Past, 1700-1770

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Making the English Canon: Print Capitalism and the Cultural Past, 1700-70

View Larger Image. Ask Seller a Question. Publisher: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. Jonathan Brody Kramnick's book examines the formation of the English canon over the first two-thirds of the eighteenth century. Kramnick details how the idea of literary tradition emerged out of a prolonged engagement with the institutions of cultural modernity, from the public sphere and national identity to capitalism and the print market.

Looking at a wide variety of eighteenth-century critical writing, he analyzes the tensions that inhabited the categories of national literature and public culture at the moment of their emergence. This book offers an original examination of the formation of the English canon during the first two thirds of the eighteenth century, looking in particular at the treatment of Shakespeare, Spenser and Milton.

The Literary Canon

Through close readings of periodical essays, editions, treatises, reviews, disquisitions, pamphlets and poems, Jonathan Brody Kramnick recounts the origins of modern literary study and situates the rise of national literary tradition in the broad context of the making of a public culture. Visit Seller's Storefront.

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ISBN: Letitia Elizabeth Landon: Selected Writings. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview, These two books are in many ways strikingly similar.

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Both attempt a kind of archaeology of knowledge on large questions of literary history. Both are concerned with historicising concepts and categories long taken for granted. Both therefore work by defamiliarising what we have come to take as a given: the literary canon, the idea of literature itself.

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Both relate the changes in the idea of literature to intellectual labour, to print culture, and to gender. Both use history to explain the origin—and, by extension, the present state—of essential aspects of the critical profession.

And both are therefore at least as concerned with the late twentieth century—what Kramnick calls 'the present crisis' p. Together, they provide an intriguing reconsideration of the idea of literature from the middle of the eighteenth century through the first third of the nineteenth. Kramnick's Making the English Canon is an ambitious book.

Its concern is not so much with canon-formation per se —there is little discussion of what is in and what is out—as with the rise of the modes of reading applicable to a canon of great, but necessarily difficult, works.


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In the wake of the battle of the books, Kramnick argues, came two opposed but never entirely separable approaches to vernacular works, one belletristic and 'aesthetic'.