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Walter BesantThe Business of Literature and the Pleasures of Reform$
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Kevin A. Morrison

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620351

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620351.001.0001

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The Author Function in Walter Besant’s Fiction

The Author Function in Walter Besant’s Fiction

The Notion of Artistic Value in the Wake of Copyright Law and the Nationalist Restructuring of the Book Trade

(p.90) Chapter Five The Author Function in Walter Besant’s Fiction
Walter Besant

Alberto Gabriele

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the author’s function in Walter Besant’s Herr Paulus (1888) and Armorel of Lyonesse (1890). It places the representation of literary and artistic creation in Walter Besant’s novels within the transnational context of the debates on international copyright and the nationalist restructuring of the trade that followed copyright legislation. Both aspects were covered in the pages of the periodical The Author directed by Besant in the same period, thus making a transnational approach in the study of Victorian fiction all the more necessary. The novels provide a poignant critique of the misleading power of make-belief that sustained several forms of literary, economic and social fictions, thus redefining the notion of literary value against the rhetoric adopted by the proponents of the triumphant and often unfair practices of monopolistic liberalism. Walter Besant’s fiction takes aim at the remnants of the Romantic ideology that clouded a materialist assessment of the author’s value in the marketplace, problematizing the Platonist theory of creativity, that was rather counterproductive to the affirmation of the author’s advancement as independent force in the marketplace, the goal of Besant’s reformism.

Keywords:   Walter Besant, Transnational Victorian literature and culture, Book history, Periodical press studies, Copyright law, Authorship, Fictions of value, Australia, Mesmerism, Global kitsch

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