Special Topic: Between Geniuses and Brain-Suckers. Problematic Professionalism in Eighteenth-Century Authorship

Reading (and Not Reading) Anonymity: Daniel Defoe, An Essay on the Regulation of the Press and A Vindication of the Press

Author
  • Mark Vareschi (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Abstract

In this essay I take up the anonymous An Essay on the Regulation of the Press (1704) and A Vindication of the Press (1718), both regularly attributed to Daniel Defoe. While the pamphlets themselves consider anonymity essential to a work being read and interpreted, paradoxically, twentieth- and twenty-first century critics insist on correct attribution as the starting point for interpretation. The consequences and benefits of authorial attribution to these, and other, minor works are not insignificant. The attribution of authorship to a known author ensures that a work will survive; it may even ensure that a work is subject to study and analysis. However, authorial attribution may also foreclose study and analysis because the attributed work, if it is to be by the named author, must be made to cohere within a larger body of work.

Keywords: Daniel Defoe, attribution, pamphlet writing, interpretation

How to Cite:

Vareschi, M., (2015) “Reading (and Not Reading) Anonymity: Daniel Defoe, An Essay on the Regulation of the Press and A Vindication of the Press”, Authorship 4(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/aj.v4i1.1106

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Published on
17 Jun 2015
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