A fascinating analysis of anonymous publication centuries before the digital age
Everywhere and Nowhere considers the ubiquity of anonymity and mediation in the publication and circulation of eighteenth-century British literature—before the Romantic creation of the “author”—and what this means for literary criticism. Drawing on quantitative analysis and robust archival work, it reveals the long history of print anonymity so central to the risks and benefits of the digital culture.
Literary critics, asked to summarize their research, are often asked, ‘Who are your authors?’ Everywhere and Nowhere cleverly baffles this question and turns our attention to anonymity. Bracketing out the author, Mark Vareschi brings into sight other features of publication: namely, networks of writing and reception and a complex of print and performance. He works impressively with bibliographic records, booksellers’ catalogs, advertisements, and paratextual material, like tables of contents. His careful bibliometric work establishes changing percentages of anonymous publication across decades and genres. This is fresh, compelling, detail-rich scholarship and essential reading.