Never Done: Compulsive Writing, Graphomania, Bibliomania

in Obsession

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780226137827
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226137797 | DOI:
Never Done: Compulsive Writing, Graphomania, Bibliomania

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Much has been written about the nineteenth-century novel, but one characteristic has been overlooked, perhaps because it is so obvious. The great novelists of that century were engaged in a single-minded work project that had no precedent—the continuous, cumulative production of words. Dickens, Balzac, Trollope, Zola, Goncourt, and many less well-known writers have an output, an opus, that is staggering and awe-inspiring. These writers wrote not only novels but journalism, criticism, and letters—they were in effect writing all the time. They had become obsessives in the cause of letters. This chapter shows how obsession became so interwoven into literary and aesthetic life that it was virtually inseparable from the idea of artistic temperament or of the socially and economically defined role of the author, and that books themselves are the tokens and the substance of this obsessive behavior both in creation and consumption.

Keywords: nineteenth-century novel; novelists; writers; creativity; books

Chapter.  8342 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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