Sunday Book-Thought 129

If Franklin W. Dixon [the pen name used by numerous authors for The Hardy Boys series] seemed like a criminal imposter in my childhood, he seems more like the model of authorship today. As many critics have noted over the last several decades, authors get conjured out of collaborations between and among an array of co-producers, both other people and other institutions, none of which can claim sole jurisdiction over the literary work that results. Whatever writers do with paper and ink, they only become authors through a network of editors, publishers, distributors, book stores, reviewers, and universities, to name only a few of the main institutional participants in the process. One great irony of authorship is that people may scribble away as long as they like, but they remain writers, not authors, until institutions like publishers and book stores legitimize their work, and in the process, transform the nature of their own authority.
Jason Puskar, ‘Institutions: Writing and Reading’, in The Cambridge Handbook of Literary Authorship, ed. by Ingo Berensmeyer, Gert Buelens, and Marysa Demoor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019) pp. 429-443 (p. 430).

Sunday Book-Thought 71

I remember being enchanted as a kid with the early Hardy Boys books by Franklin W. Dixon, but after a certain point in the series, the magic seemed to disappear. It wasn’t until more than fifteen years later I discovered the Franklin W. Dixon never existed. The first sixteen books were written by a man named Leslie McFarlane. The next twenty were written by eleven different people. What I’d chalked up to the loss of something intangible in those later books was in fact the loss of something very tangible indeed: the author.
Aesthetic experiences like these for me are like an unending series of blind dates where you never follow up, conversations with a stranger on the bus (or the Internet) where you never catch the other person’s name. There’s nothing wrong with them –  they’re pleasant, sometimes memorable, even illuminating – and all relationships start somewhere. But to live a whole life like that?
Brian ChristianThe Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive (London: Penguin, 2012 [first published New York: Doubleday, 2011]), p. 31.