Sunday, September 4, 2016

London research ramblings

So, I thought I should probably post a bit about exactly what I'm trying to research, if only to give myself a chance to work through it.

My initial plan was to look at reprints of famous novels, particularly in periodical format. Specifically, I'm looking at Novelist's Magazine, and trying to figure out what changed both in subsequent printings and in this particular format of the novel. I'm looking primarily for added illustrations, but I'll also take general decoration, typeface, layout, etc.

I wanted to look at two novels: Pamela and Joseph Andrews. The image to the right is the title page from an early edition of Pamela by Samuel Richardson. This is, of course, kind of appropriate, since Pamela was such a huge hit, and Joseph Andrews is Henry Fielding's response to Pamela by writing about her brother and his adventures.

Now, I know from research that both Pamela and Joseph Andrews were published in Novelist's Magazine. And obviously, the British Library has early versions of Pamela to work with. Unless I'm missing something, though, it doesn't seem to have print copies of early versions of Joseph Andrews. There's digitized versions, but I really wanted to work with the print so I can judge paper quality, how it was made, and thus try to discern who the audience for the work may have been. I could go to Irish printings if I wanted to -- they have Dublin printings -- but I'd greatly prefer to stick to London printings if I could, if only for consistency. My understanding of the Dublin press is that it was generally a cheaper printing, which is... well, not what I wanted to study, and less likely to include illustrations.

So then the question becomes, do I stick with Joseph Andrews or look for one of the other novels? Tomorrow I'm back to the library and I'll be making that decision. It's disappointing, though. Still, this sort of thing happens when you're doing research -- you never know what you'll find.