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The bibliography of British prose fiction from the 1776-1779 allows us to better understand the literary trend of this period. From this survey, we can compare and contrast the themes of each novel, identifying the “popular” tendencies of late 18th century writers. However, it is fascinating how the novels are classified. The novels, for which the authors remained anonymous, are at the front for each year’s classification Interestingly, most, if not all, anonymous authors are “ladies”, indicating of the stereotyped “domesticity” of women. In other words, many of the female authors chose not to be named in order to avoid attention of or harassment by men. The female authors chose to maintain their “virtue”, focusing on the ties between love and morality. In contrast, most male authors tended to write about adventures, playing into the stereotype of masculinity for the audience. However, what stood out were not the obvious trends that female and male writers were focusing on, but the cost of their novels. Most of the novels costed 5-6 shillings, with bounded novels costing more than their sewed counterparts. Since the average wages of skilled laborers were between 15 and 20 shillings per week, most novels costed about a third of a week’s salary. From our perspective, the novels either costed too much or the laborers were underpaid. Taking into factor that mass production of novels were present in the 18th century, I must support the idea that wages in the 18th century were vastly more unfair than today’s minimum wage. However, we cannot deduct from the fact that the evolution of technology since then made novels much cheaper and, therefore, easier to access for the public.
Analyzing the bibliography of Evelina, or, a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World, we can see that the author is Frances Burney and the publisher is T. Lowndes located in No. 77 in Fleet Street in London. Notably, T. Lowndes seems to have been a prestigious publisher, as the Garside entries show that he did publish many novels. The price of this novel is 7 shillings and 6 pence for a sewed copy and 9 shillings for a bound copy (a much higher price compared to that of other novels). We can see that Lowndes paid 20 guineas to Burney for the two volumes of the novel and published 500 copies. The bibliography also mentions that Burney was initially disappointed at the offered price, but was later “satisfied”. There is also a discrepancy in how many novels were initially published, as Burney claimed that 800 copies, not 500, were made. This bibliography seems to focus more on the relation on how the novel became published, rather than the content.
Using ECCO, I looked into Munster Village, Memoirs of the Countess D’Anois, Learning at a Loss, and The Unfortunate Union. Munster Village by Lady Mary Hamilton is about the divorced female characters of Munster Village. The novel seems to advocate for kindness, as the community survives upon it. However, this novel utilizes footnotes, which I hadn’t seen in older novels. I always thought footnotes originated with more modern novels. Memoirs of the Countess D’Anois is written by Henriette Julie de Castelnau Murat. Although dull, the novel does grant insight to the life of a countess in the 18th century. Notably, this novel does not highlight the virtue of women, but rather the whim. The countess is seemingly trying to explain her perspective in flirting with other men. Therefore, in a sense, this novel is the most realistic, as it chooses not to portray all women as virtuous and naive, but rather having actual desires. Learning at a Loss by Gregory Lewis Way does utilize an epistolary form, much like Evelina. However, all the characters seem to have the same personality, and is therefore hard to distinguish from one another. The Unfortunate Union by Anonymous is also in epistolary form and has a similar setting to Evelina. However this novel seems to advocate for virtue in young minds. As we can see from these novels, there is a general trend urging virtue and kindness, not necessarily towards females, but males as well.
Using ARTEMIS, I can see that this program would be especially useful to track down and analyze old novels. The ARTEMIS program seems to focus on visualizations of the results for the users, allowing them to conceptualize trends for selected terms. Term clusters seems to be like Voyant Tools, except looking at other categories such as authors instead of just the text. This tool especially allows us to see which literary technique (epistolary in this case) is popular in that era. Term frequency is wonderful for highlighting what terms are used as time periods change. Indepthly, this tool helps us analyze the trend of what content the authors are focusing (e.g. love for this era). We can see which words became popular and which became less used. Overall, the ARTEMIS visual graphs are user friendly and easy to interpret.