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Barbauld's Richardson and the canonisation of personal character

(2012) EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION. 25(2). p.431-454
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Organization
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Research on Authorship as Performance
Abstract
In The Correspondence of Samuel Richardson (1804), Anna Letitia Barbauld set out to assure readers that the novelist’s personal character (as displayed in his letters) corresponded to his authorial moral character (as inferred through his novels) in order to present him as an appropriate father of the modern British novel – a process I call the “canonisation of private character.” To that end, Barbauld’s editorial work presented Richardson as a benevolent patriarchal figure whose moral authority over the domestic life of his extended family guaranteed the morality of his novels and of his personal character. As my case study of Richardson’s correspondence with Sarah Wescomb shows, Barbauld’s interventions accordingly muted challenges to Richardson’s authority on questions of paternal control or filial obedience. Life writing, textual criticism, and literary history were therefore so intimately intertwined in Barbauld’s treatment of Richardson and his writings that they mutually constituted and sustained each other. Her contributions to the elevation and institution of novels as a national literary genre – in the Correspondence as well as in her later prefaces to The British Novelists (1810) – accordingly should be read in conjunction with her biographical elevation and canonisation of Richardson as the first properly moral, modern novelist.
Keywords
Samuel Richardson, authorship, author, canon, novel, romantic, romanticism, Britain, eighteenth century, letters, correspondence, system, editor, edition, Anna Letitia Barbauld

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Citation

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Chicago
Hammerschmidt, Sören. 2012. “Barbauld’s Richardson and the Canonisation of Personal Character.” Eighteenth-century Fiction 25 (2): 431–454.
APA
Hammerschmidt, S. (2012). Barbauld’s Richardson and the canonisation of personal character. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION, 25(2), 431–454.
Vancouver
1.
Hammerschmidt S. Barbauld’s Richardson and the canonisation of personal character. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION. 2012;25(2):431–54.
MLA
Hammerschmidt, Sören. “Barbauld’s Richardson and the Canonisation of Personal Character.” EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION 25.2 (2012): 431–454. Print.
@article{1949338,
  abstract     = {In The Correspondence of Samuel Richardson (1804), Anna Letitia Barbauld set out to assure readers that the novelist{\textquoteright}s personal character (as displayed in his letters) corresponded to his authorial moral character (as inferred through his novels) in order to present him as an appropriate father of the modern British novel -- a process I call the {\textquotedblleft}canonisation of private character.{\textquotedblright} To that end, Barbauld{\textquoteright}s editorial work presented Richardson as a benevolent patriarchal figure whose moral authority over the domestic life of his extended family guaranteed the morality of his novels and of his personal character. As my case study of Richardson{\textquoteright}s correspondence with Sarah Wescomb shows, Barbauld{\textquoteright}s interventions accordingly muted challenges to Richardson{\textquoteright}s authority on questions of paternal control or filial obedience. Life writing, textual criticism, and literary history were therefore so intimately intertwined in Barbauld{\textquoteright}s treatment of Richardson and his writings that they mutually constituted and sustained each other. Her contributions to the elevation and institution of novels as a national literary genre -- in the Correspondence as well as in her later prefaces to The British Novelists (1810) -- accordingly should be read in conjunction with her biographical elevation and canonisation of Richardson as the first properly moral, modern novelist.},
  author       = {Hammerschmidt, S{\"o}ren},
  issn         = {0840-6286},
  journal      = {EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION},
  keyword      = {Samuel Richardson,authorship,author,canon,novel,romantic,romanticism,Britain,eighteenth century,letters,correspondence,system,editor,edition,Anna Letitia Barbauld},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {431--454},
  title        = {Barbauld's Richardson and the canonisation of personal character},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.3138/ecf.25.2.431},
  volume       = {25},
  year         = {2012},
}

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