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Eighteenth-century critics differed about almost everything, but if there was one point on which they almost universally agreed, it was that they were living through an age of extraordinary change. The texts in this collection respond to a series of fundamental questions about the changing nature of the literary field during a tumultuous age: What types of writing mattered in a thriving commercial nation? What kinds of knowledge ought literature to offer, if it was to continue to be relevant? What did it mean to be an author in this busy modern world, and what sorts of social distinction should authors expect to enjoy? The Age of Authors explores the complexity, sophistication, and creativity with which the eighteenth century literary community (or “republic of letters”) responded to the challenges of the time.