Selling the Story: Balzac, Dostoevsky and Economic Criticism

Monday, March 30, 2020
3:00-5:00pm
Peter Wall Institute Seminar Room
6331 Crescent Road, Vancouver, BC

How does writing for money affect what is written? Join us for a talk by Professor Jonathan Paine on the main themes of his 2019 book, Selling the Story: Transaction and Narrative Value in Balzac, Dostoevsky, and Zola (Harvard University Press).

Combining close readings of works by Balzac and Dostoevsky with detailed analyses of the nineteenth-century publishing contexts in which prose fiction first became a product, Paine will discuss how the business of literature affects literary devices such as genre, plot, and repetition.

He will argue that no book can be properly understood without reference to its point of sale: the author’s knowledge of the market, of reader expectations, and of his or her own efforts to define and achieve literary value. The proposition redefines economic criticism as an undervalued tool of literary criticism.

Jonathan Paine is a Supernumerary Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford and Senior Advisor and former Managing Director at the investment bank Rothschild & Co. He serves as the treasurer of the International Dostoevsky Society.

Hosted by: Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies
Website: pwias.ubc.ca/events