As you read this insider's view of periodical reviews of commercial publications, ask yourself how and to what degree Trollope finds the political economics of literature related to swindling, the stock and bonds, the marriage market, and reputation in society. According to Trollope's narrator, who here acts as a wisdom speaker, an authority,
There is the review intended to sell a book, — which comes out immediately after the appearance of the book or sometimes before it; the review which gives reputation, but does not affect the sale. and which comes a little late. the review which snuffs a book out quietly; the review which is to raise or lower the author a single peg, or two pegs, as the case may be; the review which is suddenly to make an author, and the review which is to crush him. An exuberant Jones has been known before now to declare aloud that he would crush a man, and a self-confident Jones has been known to declare that he has accomplished the deed. Of all reviews. the crushing review is the most popular as being the most readable. When the rumour goes abroad that some notable man has been actually crushed — been positively driven over by an entire Juggernaut's car of criticism till his literary body be a mere amorphous mass, — then a real success has been achieved, and the ALf of the day has done a great thing; but even the crushing of a poor Lady Carbury, if it be absolute, is effective. Such a review will not make all the world call for the 'Evening Pulpit' but it will cause those who do take the paper to be satisfied with their bargain. Whenever the circulation of such a paper begins to slacken, the proprietors should, as a matter of course; admonish their Alf to add a little power to the crushing department. (Chapter 11, "Lady Carbury at Home," 96-97).
Last modified 2000