It is rare that any scholarly work with the phrase “book trade” in its title should turn out to be as ambitious and consequential as this study. Joseph Rezek puts all the terms of his title in an unfamiliar and provocative light while writing a new chapter in the history of the novel, focused on Walter Scott, Maria Edgeworth, Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. In seven closely argued chapters, Rezek offers some important rethinking of the “provincial” as a literary category, how to conceive the transatlantic as more than a one-way traffic in cultural production in the nineteenth century, and why something as empirical or quantifiable as the book trade could even conceivably enter the orbit of the “aesthetic.” His major aim is to show how “the centripetal pull of London created a provincial literary formation that shaped the...

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