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American History Through Literature: 1820-1870, Volume 1 by Janet;Sattelmeyer, Robert Gabler-Hover

By Janet;Sattelmeyer, Robert Gabler-Hover

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It is a main and prolonged, rather than intermittent or sporadic, resource for the writer; . . it is produced with the hope of extended sale in the open market, like any article of commerce; and . . it is written with reference to buyers’ tastes and reading habits” (p. 3). AMATEURS AND THE LITERARY MARKETPLACE Charvat defined the professional author, but what did it mean to be an amateur author? Was an amateur a part-time author, a one-time author, a poor, incompetent, or unpaid author, or merely a gentleman whose wealth freed him from the need to sell his work?

Marryat and other Englishmen were impressed by the prevalence of the all-purpose verb “to fix,” which Godfrey Thomas Vigne identified in 1832 as meaning “to be done, made, mixed, mended, bespoken, hired, ordered, arranged, procured, finished, lent or given” (Mencken, p. 26).

As early as the 1780s patriots called for a national language to confirm America’s independence from England. Among the first champions of the cause was Noah Webster (1758–1843), a graduate of Yale University and a lawyer, journalist, and teacher who was destined to become preeminent in the history of American English and immortalized in America’s dictionaries. In his Dissertations on the English Language (1789), published more than a decade before his first dictionary, Webster declares: “Customs, habits, and language, as well as government should be national.

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