10 Facts about Getting Published in the Age of Reason

The Queen via Photobucket

Ten Facts about Getting Published in The Age of Reason
 
Today we look at the proliferation of books around us and wonder if in fact we will lose them eventually to ebooks. The ‘book’ has been part of our lives for so long it is difficult to imagine a time when they did not exist, easily accessed by all, but like everything else in there had to be a beginning. The beginning for the common folk of England came much later than in some other countries and was not welcomed by some.
 
According to Will and Ariel Durant in The Age of Reason Begins, Barnaby Rich wrote in 1600,”One of the great diseases of this age is the multitude of books that doth so overcharge the world that it is not able to digest the abundance of idle matter that is every day hatched and brought into the world.” A few years later in 1628 Robert Burton wrote, “Already we shall have a vast chaos and confusion of books; we are oppressed with them, our eyes ache with reading, our fingers with turning.”
 
According to Durant both these men were authors. The aristocracy had been reading for ages but books and the resultant plays available to a common class who were learning to read was new.
 
So a few facts of interest:
1). There were 250 publishers in Elizabethan England
2). Publishers also did their own printing, publishing and book selling
3) Authors were paid 5 pounds for a book.
4). Registering a publication with the Stationers Company constituted copyright not for the author, but for the publisher.
5). A few authors managed to live by their pen but most did not.
6). There were severe restrictions on what could be written (while the Queen apparently supported free thought she was absolutely against free speech, and many suffered the punishment, which was execution.
7). Smart authors dedicated their books to people in the aristocracy who then became their patrons.
8). Translations were published from books of Greece, Rome, Italy and France and this influence inspired writers of the day including Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster and many others.
9). Poetry progressed from rhyme to classic meters and the aristocrats who at one time scorned poetry delved into the art. Everyone became a poet, good or otherwise. A craze for sonnets developed.
10). Naturally the keepers of the Morals, largely The church and the Crown were incensed for plays and writings glamorized incest, homosexuality, whoring, and got more than a few pot shots in against authorities, church and Puritans.
 
Christopher Marlowe according to Durant says, “He made blank verse a flexible and powerful speech. He saved the Elizabethan stage from classicists and Puritans…..Through Marlowe, Kyd, Lodge, Greene and Peele the way had been opened; the form, structure, style, and material of the Elizabethan drama had been prepared. Shakespeare was not a miracle, he was a fulfillment.”
 
Pretty exciting stuff I say!

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21 thoughts on “10 Facts about Getting Published in the Age of Reason”

  1. That Barnaby Rich could foretell the future. That internet that doth so overcharge the world that it is not able to digest the abundance of idle matter that is every day hatched and brought into the world. I can’t keep up with my little corner of the world, let alone the rest of it!

  2. Thanks for sharing the info Chris. For those of us who love the written word and are fascinated by all things writing….. keep the info coming!

  3. I hope we always have books – currently I am pondering what will happen when The Big Shake-up occurs and we no longer have access to Mr. Google, who knows everything. We tend to ask Mr. Google all our geography, health, cooking, building, and history questions, and how many of those things are actually being updated in, say, a paper encyclopedia?? (remember those??)

      1. Nah, just scares me to be so dependent on something so intangible. All it takes is a “glitch”, a power outage, a computer crash, a disaster, and POOF, our knowledge base is inaccessible. Not a prediction, just a nagging worry.

  4. I love the fact that no matter how far back in history you go, there’s always a bunch of worthies denouncing the latest new technology as radical and dangerous and likely to bring about the downfall of civilisation! I can just see a hairy old neanderthal guy about a million years ago denouncing flintstones as an abomination! And I bet once someone has translated all the pyramid texts, round one pillar there’ll be a whole load of “letters to the editor” complaining about the ugly modern architecture going up in downtown Cairo in 5000BC!

  5. “Already we shall have a vast chaos and confusion of books; we are oppressed with them, our eyes ache with reading, our fingers with turning.”

    Oh, throw me into dat briar patch, Brer Rabbit! What could ever be more heavenly than a wealth of books–the printed kind, bless them–and time to devour them. Perhaps I’ll become a fan of e-books when I’m in assisted living and there’s no space for all the bound books I’d like. Meanwhile, I’ll proceed with my policy: buy a book/gift a book. Keeps the chaos just faintly controlled so I’m not overcome with ecstasy.

  6. Imagine what it was like to do research centuries ago. Even the Durants must have worn themselves out producing their monumental histories. Today we have the world at our fingertips and we don’t have to leave our chairs.

    The history of literature is so interesting, isn’t it? What a great post. Looking forward to reading more.

  7. Long live the written word! It will prevail. Regardless of what the analysts say, books and their virtual, internet cousins will survive. Great post. 🙂

  8. “7). Smart authors dedicated their books to people in the aristocracy who then became their patrons.”
    I work in Publishing and I can assure you that in many cases this still happens, except replace aristocracy with old money in India!

    Thank you for this, it’s a lovely read!

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