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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The last two decades of the nineteenth century saw an expansion of print as well as a new freedom of the press; such expansion produced a corresponding movement to suppress such freedom and to censor print. This essay explores the efforts of Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy and Grant Allen to redefine the censorship debates in the prefaces to their novels. Often overlooked as a forum for the interrogation of censorship, prefaces manifest not only the complexities of the pressures on novelists to regulate what they wrote but also their efforts to resist those pressures. Legal censorship existed, of course, but Wilde, Hardy, and Allen did not target those forms of control. Instead, they registered the network of pressures arising out of the contexts in which their writing was produced, received, and marketed. Those pressures created varied forms of censorship that determined what could and could not be represented in the novel.

Keywords: Censorship, Law, Prefaces, Press, Reception, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy, Grant Allen, Henry Vizetelly, Circulating Libraries, Publishers

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