Cover image for Mechanic accents : dime novels and working-class culture in America

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Item Holds
Searching...
PS374.D5 D44 1987 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

A study of nineteenth century American popular fiction and working class culture.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Between the 1840s and the 1890s, the dime novel, the most popular mass commercial literature of the 19th century, had a strong appeal to working men and women. Denning's work is the first detailed book-length study of the stories, which includes a survey of relevant literary criticism and cultural history such as that of Marx, Bakhtin, and Fredric Jameson. Denning gives generous space to discussion of various authors and their works; production quantity, speed, and fixed demands by publishers; and the reading audience, circumstances of reading the stories, and reaction to them. At the time, a serious debate arose as to whether the working-class audience was reformed or introduced to vice by the dime novels, sometimes called ``Penny Dreadfuls.'' Though the novels were read primarily for escape, the plots do allegorically parallel the 19th-century social scene with class conflicts and Horatio Alger-type heroes. Thus Denning, for example, covers the fictions of George Lippard, the most popular of the writers of dime novels, and others, and deals with such subjects as seductions, strikes, and divided loyalties. After the development of film and broadcasting, the dime novel returned to a secondary role as a popular narrative. Denning's work is both scholarly and entertaining; it is a mine of information for the specialist, with 46 pages of notes and bibliographical material, and thus will appeal to a wide audience, including undergraduates, general readers, and library patrons.-W.B. Warde Jr., North Texas State University


Choice Review

Between the 1840s and the 1890s, the dime novel, the most popular mass commercial literature of the 19th century, had a strong appeal to working men and women. Denning's work is the first detailed book-length study of the stories, which includes a survey of relevant literary criticism and cultural history such as that of Marx, Bakhtin, and Fredric Jameson. Denning gives generous space to discussion of various authors and their works; production quantity, speed, and fixed demands by publishers; and the reading audience, circumstances of reading the stories, and reaction to them. At the time, a serious debate arose as to whether the working-class audience was reformed or introduced to vice by the dime novels, sometimes called ``Penny Dreadfuls.'' Though the novels were read primarily for escape, the plots do allegorically parallel the 19th-century social scene with class conflicts and Horatio Alger-type heroes. Thus Denning, for example, covers the fictions of George Lippard, the most popular of the writers of dime novels, and others, and deals with such subjects as seductions, strikes, and divided loyalties. After the development of film and broadcasting, the dime novel returned to a secondary role as a popular narrative. Denning's work is both scholarly and entertaining; it is a mine of information for the specialist, with 46 pages of notes and bibliographical material, and thus will appeal to a wide audience, including undergraduates, general readers, and library patrons.-W.B. Warde Jr., North Texas State University