This essay seeks to situate Anthony Trollope's short 1866 novel Nina Balatka in the context of the market conditions that characterized Victorian literary entertainment. These market conditions, which included a proliferating number of reprinting vehicles, accommodated copying, abridging, and reassembling as legitimate creative procedures and suggest that commercial forces made originality and ownership more difficult to stabilize than nineteenth-century novelists and copyright reformers would have liked. In this light, Nina Balatka's failed attempt to assimilate the figure of the Jew into a conventional marriage plot reflects a problem in Trollope's construction of authorship, a problem that inheres in how literary commercialism and literary professionalism might represent mutually exclusive value postulates. Max Weber's distinction between formal rationality and substantive rationality expresses this apparent contradiction: literary commercialism refers to the formal and impersonal laws of the economic market, while literary professionalism refers to the substantive ethos of service to the community and nation. In underscoring the incompatibility of the Jew and the Christian maiden of Prague, Nina Balatka's unconvincing marriage plot uses the same terms that make Trollope's representation of the novelist as both baker and barrister something of a fantasy.
Monica F. Cohen; The Paradox of Literary Commercialism in Trollope's Nina Balatka. Novel 1 November 2014; 47 (3): 383–402. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-2789100
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