Midwives of the Muses: Representations of the Transformation of Literary Patronage

  • Joanna Maciulewicz
Part of the New Directions in Book History book series (NDBH)


This chapter shows multiple definitions of the role of patrons in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century texts. John Dryden’s prefaces reveal the relative lack of distinction between the roles of patrons, writers, critics and readers in the aristocratic model of the republic of letters and the successive crystallisation of the positions in the field achieved by the antagonisation of the agents resulting from its professionalisation and commercialisation. The antagonism is particularly palpable in the literary representations of booksellers, who have taken over the role of patrons. Writers conventionally portrayed them as self-serving villains who see literature, both authors and readers, solely as source of gain. Such a definition of their role is countered by booksellers in their autobiographies which try and convince the readers that the position of a bookseller does not need to be inimical to that of the authors and readers.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna Maciulewicz
    • 1
  1. 1.Adam Mickiewicz University in PoznańPoznańPoland

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