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To Publish AND Perish: The Misadventures of Self-Publishing Authors in 18th-century Paris

Miræus lectures, Wednesday 24 june 2009
Marie-Claude Felton (EHSS, Paris – UQÀM, Montreal)

In 18th-century Paris, the booksellers’ guild maintained a well-established monopoly over the publishing business: no book was to be printed or sold by anyone outside of their corporation. During a century when authors sought more independence and began to assert their authority and rights over their work, however, some writers tried to get published on their own terms without having to relinquish their rights to a bookseller (and publisher), which was then the rule. The study of these authors’ multiple endeavors allows us to examine the tensions that subsisted between authors and publishers in a world still dominated by privileges, and to realize just how far some writers would go to see their talent and knowledge be immortalized in print.