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Speech and Property in David Simple

ELH: English Literary History, Vol. 79, pp. 623-54 (2012)

47 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2012 Last revised: 3 Sep 2012

Simon Stern

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 6, 2012

Abstract

Throughout Sarah Fielding's 1744 novel David Simple, conflicts over the citation, attribution, and withholding of others’ words are associated with property disputes and with acts of impersonation. The novel’s villains, driven by anxieties about scarcity, repeatedly seek to appropriate their victims’ material and verbal resources, reflexively categorizing them as a kind of property. These manipulative tactics — and the novel’s ambivalent attitude towards direct quotation — point to concerns implicit in contemporaneous thought about literary property, involving the problems associated with converting words into property and the difficulty of controlling what happens to them as a result.

Keywords: Sarah Fielding, David Simple, eightee-century novel, sentimental fiction, copyright law, legal history, literary history

JEL Classification: B11, K11

Suggested Citation

Stern, Simon, Speech and Property in David Simple (July 6, 2012). ELH: English Literary History, Vol. 79, pp. 623-54 (2012) . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2101743

Simon Stern (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utoronto.ca/faculty-staff/full-time-faculty/simon-stern

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