By Susan Stewart
From the origins of contemporary copyright in early eighteenth-century tradition to the efforts to symbolize nature and dying in postmodern fiction, this pioneering publication explores a chain of difficulties concerning the containment of illustration. Stewart makes a speciality of particular circumstances of "crimes of writing"--the forgeries of George Psalmanazar, the construction of "fakelore," the "ballad scandals" of the eighteenth and 19th centuries, the imposture of Thomas Chatterton, and modern laws concerning graffiti and pornography. during this means, she emphasizes the problems which come up as soon as language is obvious as a question of estate and authorship is seen as an issue of originality. eventually, Stewart demonstrates that crimes of writing are delineated by means of the legislations simply because they in particular undermine the prestige of the legislations itself: the crimes remove darkness from the irreducible proven fact that legislation is written and accordingly topic to temporality and interpretation.
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Additional resources for Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation
Thus graffiti aggrandizes the very culture of novelty and consumption it seeks to attack. It does not create a "genuine" alternative to existing forms of artistic expression and consumption, so much as it presents itself as a practice of novelty and individuation quite analogous to such existing forms. "The Marquis de Meese" analyzes pornography as a crime of content, focusing upon the ways in which the reproduction and dispersal of sublimation become the end of sublimation and hence a threat to representation itself.
Grafton's formidable learning and wit distinguish his essay, but 1 think we cannot— as we remember the counter-example of Hellenistic individuality—overlook the historical transformations in the status of writing and authoring in their specificity. Forgery is a crime, but not a "natural" one. Another useful survey of literary forgeries is in Richard Altick, The Scholar Adventurers (New York: Macmillan, 1950), which provides accounts of John Payne (Jollier's forgeries and alterations of Elizabethan materials, Thomas J.
16 But even actual visitors from China had little to do with the construction of the Orient in the literary culture. During the eighteenth century's "Chinese vogue," the cultural Other was an occasion for reflexivity in the form of satire, the literary form that above all others assumes a natural stance in its focus upon the critique of all artificiality. 17 But these singular foreign visitors cast upon the shores of British literary culture held up another kind of satirical mirror to the stranded authorial subjectivity of the period.