Don’t Meet the Author: Reclusive Literary Popularity

A 1922 article, “The Book I Most Enjoyed Writing: A Symposium of Well-Known Novelists,” covertly suggests an important quality of literary popularity: successful authors can be personally well-known. However, purposefully unknowable writers can also achieve substantial literary popularity. This project will examine the desire to know authors by studying the response of the literary marketplace to writers like Thomas Pynchon and Harper Lee who insist on their privacy. In examining the literary label of “recluse,” the relationship between biographical access and literary popularity reveals a voyeuristic desire for intimacy that becomes an integral part of a reclusive author’s literary value.

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