Printed in a book: Negotiating print and manuscript cultures in Fantomina and Clarissa

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In his dual career as printer and author, Samuel Richardson embodies the dialogue between print and manuscript cultures during the eighteenth century. Like Richardson, Haywood was involved in the book trades and was an accomplished practitioner of the novel-in-letters. Both wrote novels that participated in the ongoing cultural negotiation between print and manuscript cultures. Haywood's Fantomina capitalizes on the distance created by print to creates authority. By contrast, Richardson's Clarissa uses epistolary fiction to misappropriate manuscript culture by creating a nostalgic idea of direct linkage between letter, body, and self which ultimately disempowers the manuscript author and points toward print. In other words, Richardson uses a fantasy of manuscript culture's troubled authenticity to authorize print as the more authoritative material form. Together, these two novels help to suggest just how integral the problem of print's authority was in the shaping of the genre.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-257
Number of pages19
JournalEighteenth-Century Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2013


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