Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-century Novel

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The uniformity of the eighteenth-century novel in today's paperbacks and critical editions no longer conveys the early novel's visual exuberance. Janine Barchas explains how during the genre's formation in the first half of the eighteenth century, the novel's material embodiment as printed book rivalled its narrative content in diversity and creativity. Innovations in layout, ornamentation and even punctuation found in, for example, the novels of Richardson, an author who printed his own books, help shape a tradition of early visual ingenuity. From the beginning of the novel's emergence in Britain, prose writers including Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, and Henry and Sarah Fielding experimented with the novel's appearance. Lavishly illustrated with more than 100 graphic features found in eighteenth-century editions, this important study aims to recover the visual context in which the eighteenth-century novel was produced and read.