|About the Book|
This dissertation project complicates and enriches the current debate in reception studies and textual criticism by concentrating on the influence William Makepeace Thackeray, Thomas Hardy and Henry James had on the reception of their novels. RelyingMoreThis dissertation project complicates and enriches the current debate in reception studies and textual criticism by concentrating on the influence William Makepeace Thackeray, Thomas Hardy and Henry James had on the reception of their novels. Relying on critical reviews, personal letters and diaries, the project demonstrates that the authors choices during the illustration process of the first edition of their works reflect their understanding of audience expectations. Consequently, my project effectively questions the exclusivity of the verbal text in reception studies and elucidates some of the hidden aspects of the contemporary reception of literary works.-My methodology discussion revisits the Jaussian notion of the horizon of expectations by comparing the social and ethical role of literature during different periods of the Victorian era, and by examining the contemporary dynamics between the expanding literary audience, improving printing technology and increasing interest in all things visual. Upholding the precedence of visual perception, I demonstrate that Matei Calinescus notion of rereading represents the key to understanding how visual reception affects literary reception whenever the discrepancy between text and illustrations displays a visible shift. By observing the readers appreciation of Thackerays illustrations that provide a comic relief for the harsh irony of the text in Vanity Fair, I emphasize the effect of a thematic and stylistic unity between text and illustration. In contrast, Hardys The Return of the Native and Jamess Washington Square showcase the possible causes and effects of dissonance between text and illustration. Hardy supervised Arthur Hopkinss illustration of the characters closely, but did not monitor the visualization of natural environment, Egdon Heath, which permitted the infiltration of Japanese symbolism that counteracted Hardys naturalism and fatalism. Jamess confession of having written the text in crude defiance of the illustrator demonstrates the influence of the emerging authorial self-confidence on the reception of proto-modernist literary work and, ultimately, on the late-Victorian writer-audience relationship. Hence, my project provides valuable insight into the forces that shape the literary transformation from Victorian didacticism to modernist self-distancing, and from reception processes guided by the author to the reading difficulties brought about by the intentional ambiguity of late-Victorian texts.