Advertising Colonial Romance and Imperial Masculinity: The Promotion of Philip Meadows Taylor's Novels in Britain

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Abstract

The comments of Charles Kegan Paul, the Victorian publisher who was involved in publishing the novels of the nineteenth-century British-Indian author Philip Meadows Taylor as single volume reprints in the 1880s, are illuminating. They are indicative of the publisher's position with regard to publishing - that there was often no correlation between commercial success and the artistic merit of a work. According to Kegan Paul, a substandard or mediocre text would be commercially successful as long it met a perceived want on the part of the public. In effect, the ruminations of the publisher suggests that a firm desirous of acquiring commercial success for a work should be an astute judge of the pre-existing wants of consumers within the market. Yet Theodor Adorno, writing in the mid-twentieth century, offers an entirely distinctive perspective to Kegan Paul's observations, arguing that there is nothing foreordained about consumer demand for certain cultural tropes or productions. They in fact are driven by an industry that preempts and conditions the possible reactions of the consumer. Both Kegan Paul's and Adorno's insights are illuminating when it comes to addressing the key issues explored in this essay. Kegan Paul's comments allude to the ways in which the publisher's promotion of Philip Meadows Taylor's fictional depictions of India and its peoples were to a large extent driven in the mid- to late-nineteenth century by their expectations of what metropolitan readers desired at any given time, whereas Adorno's insights reveal the ways in which British-Indian narratives and the public identity of their authors were not assured in advance, but were, to a large extent, engineered by the publishing industry and the literary marketplace.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)69-97
Number of pages29
JournalScript & Print
Volume40
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 02 Sep 2016

Keywords

  • Colonialism, Masculinity, Book History, British Popular Culture

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