Research Output

The return of the publisher to book history: the case of Allen Lane.

  There has been a loss of legitimacy within book history for the kind of exercise that critically examines the role of a publisher as an autonomous individual, rather than as an agent subordinating personal will to impersonal forces emerging from the nexus of cultural change, the marketplace, and legal liabilities. This loss forms part both of a more general erasure of the human from book history and of an authorial view of the publisher as enemy rather than as facilitator or collaborator. Looking through the pages of Robert Escarpit's Sociologie de la literature (1958), one of the key progenitive texts of book history, one is struck by the absence of names. There are titles of books, but few names of authors; there are references to publishing houses, but few, if any, names of publishers or editors associated with them. Escarpit provides an influential model of literature, supported by impressively marshaled statistical figures and maps, but one that has lost sight of the human personalities involved in each stage of the production, distribution, and reception circuit.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    01 January 2002

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    John Hopkins University Press

  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    338 Production


McCleery, A. (2002). The return of the publisher to book history: the case of Allen Lane. Book History. 5, 161-185. ISSN 1098-7371



autonomous individual; publisher; Escarpit; book history;

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