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One fairly widespread feature of Augustan literature is the idea that the temple of the Muses was being profaned by sinful and arrogant booksellers and that the true wit, therefore, should miss no opportunity of cutting them down to size. Hostility to publishers is not, of course, peculiar to the eighteenth century, but it does seem uniquely powerful and pervasive in the literature of the period from Dryden to Goldsmith; their iniquities seem to meet us everywhere, not only in verse and prose satire, but in fiction and drama, to say nothing of private letters and parliamentary debates. It's usually only a matter of incidental jeers, but there is also something of a special literary tradition in which the bookseller figures as comic villain; in poetry, of course, there's the Dunciad, with Lintot and Curll given leading roles and a dozen or so other booksellers in the cast; there are prose pamphlets like Richard Savage's (and probably in part Pope's) An Author to be Let (1729), plays like Fielding's The Author's Farce (1730) and Samuel Foote's The Author (1757), Archibald Campbell's Lucianic dialogue The Sale of Authors (1767), and a host of novels including, most notably, Amelia and Roderick Random. The period is also characterized by the amount of personal friction between authors and booksellers: David Hume brandishing his sword at Jacob Robinson, Dr. Johnson knocking Thomas Osborne down, Goldsmith trying to do the same to Evans, and Pope, determined to make the punishment fit the crime, choosing the emetic as his weapon and applying it to the bowels of that gross feeder at the table of the Muses, Edmund Curll.

Why do the booksellers loom so large on the literary scene? Was their bad eminence peculiar to England? What literary consequences did it have? And to what extent was the hostility which the booksellers


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provoked—in Pope, for instance—justified? I must preface my necessarily cursory and speculative attempt to indicate answers to these inherently difficult problems with a note of scholarly caution. We must remember that despite the many additions to our picture of the institutional structure of the Augustan literary world since the two main monographs on the subject, Alexandre Beljame's Le Public et les Hommes de Lettres en Angleterre au Dix-huitième Siècle (1881), and A. S. Collins' Authorship in the Days of Johnson (1927), the limits to our knowledge are still numerous and in some respects crippling; nor can much be done about them until the short-title catalogue finally wings its way into the eighteenth century, and until we are then supplied with an Augustan equivalent to Paul Morrison's Index of Printers, Publishers and Booksellers (1955).