Reasons to Write: TLS Reviews Three Penn Press Books on French Literature

In "Reasons to write," the Times Literary Supplement examines recent books on France's literary past, including three Penn Press titles: The Literary Market: Authorship and Modernity in the Old Regime, The Devil in the Holy Water, or the Art of Slander from Louis XIV to Napoleon, and The Bohemians. "Historians of the book continue to fillet the publishing industry of the late Enlightenment in pursuit not of those who made books but of those who made books a business," says the TLS. Geoffrey Turnovsky's The Literary Market and Robert Darnton's The Devil in the Holy Water are two examples of filleting, and The Bohemians by the Marquis de Pelleport is the meat of choice for both Darnton and Simon Burrows, author of A King's Ransom.

The review outlines Turnovsky's analysis of authors' relationships to patronage and the literary market. In its description of The Devil and the Holy Water, TLS calls Darnton "the unrivaled master of the period's literary underground." The  reviewer points out that while Burrows is less enthusiastic than Darnton about the literary merits of  Pelleport's novel The Bohemians, its author and the other London-based French libelers, "have a historical significance which has been underestimated."

The complete review is available in the July 9 issue of the Times Literary Supplement.