The notions of authorship formulated within the academy and outside it have radically diverged in recent years – while academic criticism has formulated theories about the death, disappearance or absence of the author, this figure still seems to be very much alive in non-academic culture. This chapter discusses literary celebrity in relation to some of these apparently conflicting notions of authorship, examining theoretical perspectives in relation to the actual effects of the literary marketplace and the way that authors themselves have responded to the phenomenon of celebrity. It begins by examining how the transformation of authors into media images connects with the efforts within academic literary criticism to question the figure of the author as the authoritative originator of texts and to view individualistic notions of authorship instead as culturally and historically determined. It then goes on to examine a number of texts in which authors have dealt with these issues, which tend to pivot similarly around questions of authorial intention and agency. If the main contention of anti-intentionalist textual criticism is that a text ‘is not the author’s (it is detached from the author at birth and goes about the world beyond his power to intend about it or control it)’,1 a similar case might be made for the way in which celebrity has impacted on the work and public personality of authors. The academy’s scepticism about the figure of the author thus has more similarities than might at first be apparent with celebrity’s appropriation of the authorial personality.
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