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).