This paper seeks to interrogate the key ideas of “woman”, “author” and the “marketplace” which Catherine Gallagher

studies in her work Nobody’s Story1. The reciprocal shaping of literature and the socioeconomic milieu of the Western society shall be the main focus of study. Gallagher observes that it is extremely significant to note that the emergence of “female authorship” coincided with the emergence of the “literary marketplace”2. The five writers whom Gallagher refers to in order to represent different stages of authorship in the marketplace are Aphra Behn(1640-1689), Delarivier Manley(1663-1724), Charlotte Lennox(1729-1804), Frances Burney(1752-1840), and Maria Edgeworth(1768-1849)3. While historians suggested that suggested that the changes in the changes in the very connotations and organization of gender and economic transactions were interconnected, feminist theorists probed the idea of exchange of women by powerful, eminent men for political purposes in the literary marketplace. Gallagher combines these historical and theoretical developments and endeavors to study “…how women writers integrated the changing concept of woman into their authorial personae, how they connected it to the discourse of marketplace exchange, and how prevalent notions of authorship were altered in the process.4” Gallagher explains at the very onset of her work that the “nobodies” of her are not silenced, neglected women. Rather, it is reference to certain “exchangeable tokens of modern authorship”5 that gave an impetus to a veritable rise in the number of women writers in the eighteenth century, a trend that continued in the following decades. She identifies these “exchangeable tokens” as printed books, intellectual property rights, reputations, authorial personae, incomes, debts and fictional characters. Through this study Gallagher conflates her theories regarding the rise of the novel form, rise of women authors and certain irrevocable economic changes which shaped these phenomena. The essay titled ‘The Novel and Other Discourses of Suspended Disbelief’ from the work Practicing New Historicism begins with the idea of changing belief in religion which in turns translates into changing faith/belief in the economy and the society and above all in change in
1

. Gallagher, Catherine-Nobody’s Story: the vanishing acts of women writers in the marketplace 16701820, University of California Press(1995), Introduction pp. 13 2 . ibid 3 . ibid (pp. 14) 4 . ibid 5 . ibid

However. Thus. Catherine and Greenblatt. This is also perhaps the most important principle upon which the enormous appeal of the novel form rests. It is thus observed that novels “…activate a fundamental practice of modern ideology-acquiescence without belief. crediting without credulousness-while significantly altering its disposition. The University of Chicago Press (2001) 7 ibid. This can be analyzed in close conjunction with the novel wherein characters and situations are fabricated but appear life-like. pp. 168 9 . Marx’s idea about the “fetishism of commodities” reminds us about the fabricated nature of both civilization and society and prevents us from believing these to be essential truths. this awareness does not necessarily make the object less powerful. Greenblatt and Gallagher draw our attention to the fact that in our analysis of the novel and emerging capitalist society. the wicked son.faith invested in various forms of literature. 167 8 .”10 The temporariness of the concepts of “imagination”. bourgeoisie society and displays skepticism and doubt of all doctrinal forms of knowledge. ibid . 136. This brings the speculative mentality of capitalism closer to Freud’s ideas of fetishism compared to Marx’s9. pp. ibid. The focus of this work is the metaphoric “wicked son” who is a representative of the modern. “society”. one may also withdraw from this investment without much suffering or pain.pp. Consequently.Practicing New Historicism. speculation became a habit of the human mind and habit of temporary investment of faith became an intrinsic part of the new capitalist economy and the new literary form of the novel. it is important to remember that though one may be aware that one gives a particular object/idea its “phantasmatic power”8. This is illustrated with the example of the Jewish ritual of the Passover Seder wherein four kinds of believers are depicted-the wise son. This is analogous to the manner in which the modern credit economy operates where one invests provisional faith in something that is not entirely justified or true. Chapter 5. transforming the usually guarded wariness into pleasurable expectations. Gallagher. ibid 10 . Stephen. 6 . and the son who does not know how to ask6. the simple son. Doubt is said to be the major guiding principle of all modern thought. The principal argument that the work presents is that “modern ideologies often replaced faith with credit”7. Chapter 6.

Though Marxism warns us against a society wherein inanimate creations become more powerful than their creators owing to capitalist fetishism. higher class identity depicts the starkly different social milieus in which these works were conceived. Greenblatt and Gallagher argue that the powerful nature of the novel form does not owe itself to the “successful impersonation of reality” but from “the energy invested in their creation” and are thus “invulnerable to doubt and demystification”. The fact that Hamlet’s debt requires him to murder his uncle while Pip’s debt demands the attainment of a new. In order to explain the presence of imagination and “suspended disbelief” in the novel. In a comparative study between Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Dickens’ Great Expectations. pp. Dickens’ Pip. and it is said that the “involuntary nature of imagining makes belief unnecessary. 204-205 14 . but is instead promoted as the salvific counterpart to society’s expulsions”11. unlike Hamlet. they accepted it and then ‘feminized’ it. While referring to Aphra Behn’s plays and Manley’s scandalous court chronicles. Gallagher observes that there seems to be a great deal of similarity between women’s apparent inferior ontological status in relation to men in a patriarchal society and the “symbolic disembodiment”14 that 11 12 ibid . ibid pp. 202 13 .13 In Nobody’s Story Gallagher asserts that the women authors during the eighteenth century did not disavow the materialistic nature of their profession in any way.”12 Thus. lives in an extremely reduced social world devoid of filial ties.“consciousness” and “individuality” is not addressed either by ideology or its critique. the work creates an interesting parallel between Hamlet’s debt to his dead father and Pip’s debt to the convict Magwitch. Rather. Gallagher. Coleridge’s theories on imagination are alluded to. The narrator of Great Expectations is identified as the metaphoric “wicked son” and it is observed that “In the wicked son’s novel. the activity of endowing the productions of the human brain with life is not hidden to maintain an ideological illusion. In novels however this temporariness is taken for granted and operates in an even more powerful manner. no degree of awareness about the fabricated nature of the novel can reduce the vivacity of its characters and plot.Nobody’s Story: the vanishing acts of women writers in the marketplace 16701820. ibid pp. Introduction. 15 . Catherine.

especially in a “gossipy female form” are likened to the modern notion of deficit spending. However.” In the same way. ibis pp. critics have observed that the rise of female authorship in the eighteenth century coincided with the consolidation of the hegemonic middle class. Greenblatt and Gallagher trace the origins of the novel and the modern capitalist economy through the methodology of new historicism. The University of Chicago Press(2001) • 15 16 .15 A distinction has been made between the actual authors and the “author-selves”16 in the literary marketplace.Nobody’s story: the vanishing acts of women writers in the marketplace 1670-1820. the presence of credit also necessitated the presence of debt as the authors were indebted to the reading public and the changing credit economy of which they were a part17. Furthermore. 22 . URL: http://books. accessed from Google Books. Catherine. Catherine and Greenblatt.Practicing New Historicism. ibid . Like the fictional characters of novels which have no embodied truth in the real world.co. 19 17 . scandalous court chronicles and political writings.all commodities achieve in the capitalist economy when “their essence appears to be of an abstract value.google. the “author-selves” were entities that were neither identical to the writers nor completely divorced from them. ibid pp. The intermediate stature of the novel between matter and idea and the ramifications of the same which influenced the genre and the literary market have thus been conclusively analyzed. University of California Press(1995).in/books? id=r7TO8MQ8xY0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=nobody's+story+gallagher&sourc e=bl&ots=iWPnlzzoOy&sig=S6awJELq2CDPizUYHKWhL3Pjv4&hl=en&ei=VflTTbi5D8fqrAeWzpnvCA&sa =X&oi=book (last accessed 2. The labor of the authors in the market could be said to merely produce property but also accumulate credit in the form of greater acclaim and greater demand for their works. 2. BIBLIOGRAPHY • Gallagher. Stephen. Thus. 2011) Gallagher.

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