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'Divine Art, Infernal Machine' presents a history of the printing press & of the ambivalent attitudes of the public toward printers & printing since the days of Gutenberg & his business partner Johann Fust, a gentleman often tellingly confused with the notorious Doctor Faustus.
London, 1888: Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of Whitechapel; national strikes and social unrest threaten the status quo; a grave economic crisis is spreading across the Atlantic . . . Yet Her Majesty's government is preoccupied with "a mere book" - or rather, a series of books: new translations of the Rougon-Macquart saga by French literary giant Émile Zola. In his time, Zola made his British contemporaries look positively pastoral; much of his work is considered shocking and transgressive even now. But it was his English publisher who bore the brunt of the Victorians' moral outrage at Zola's "realistic" depictions of striking miners, society courtesans and priapic, feuding farmers. Seventy years before Lady Chatterley's Lover broke the back of British censorship, Henry Vizetelly's commitment to publishing Zola, and to the nascent principle of free speech, not only landed him in the dock and thereafter in prison, but brought to ruin to the publishing house he had founded. Meanwhile, Zola was going from strength to strength, establishing his reputation as a literary legend and falling in love with a woman half his age. This lively, humorous and ultimately tragic tale is an exploration of the consequences of translation and censorship which remains relevant today for readers, publishers and authors everywhere.
Biography of a Book traces the life of an iconic Australian literary work in the lead-up to, and for a century after, its initial publication: Henry Lawson's 1896 collection While the Billy Boils. Paul Eggert follows Lawson's gradual development of a pared-back bush realism in the early 1890s, as he struggled to forge a career, writing short stories and sketches for the newspapers. Lawson's famous collection came out at a decisive moment for the development of a fully professional Australian literary publishing industry, then in its infancy in Sydney. The volume's editing, design and production were collaborative events that changed the feel and nature of Lawson's writing. He had to give ground on his texts and their sequencing. The collection went on to be reprinted and repackaged countless times. Its production and reception histories act like a geological cross-section, revealing the contours of successive cultural formations in Australia. In unravelling the life of Lawson's classic work Eggert's book-historical approach challenges and clarifies established understandings of crucial moments in Australian literary history and of Lawson himself