Christopher Looby, “Lippard in Part(s): Seriality and Secrecy in The Quaker City” (pp. 1–35)

Why did George Lippard publish The Quaker City (1844-45) originally in ten separate parts, issued at intervals over time? Answering this question involves some inference and speculation, but the argument is that the material form of part publication served not only strategic and practical purposes in the print marketplace but served also as an expressive form for Lippard. His early journalistic career was a schooling in seriality (his most interesting publications were ad hoc serials), but it was also where his ambition for long form fiction writing developed; The Quaker City then united serial form with an extended novel. This novel was driven by an animus against secrecy (the secret machinations of the powerful) and a converse devotion to democratic publicity, but serial publication itself entailed a form of secrecy (in a particular sense), and as Lippard wrote and issued the novel over an extended period of time he discovered the paradoxical value of secrecy for democracy. Finally, his little-known and belatedly published Key to the Quaker City (1845) embodied the antinomy of secrecy and publicity: it both revealed the novel’s secrets and manufactured new ones, preserving secrecy in perpetuity—that is, preserving the openness of the future for democratic agency.

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