The Reading Lesson

The Reading Lesson

The Threat of Mass Literacy in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction
Patrick M. Brantlinger
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/22/1998
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-21249-8
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Description

A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1999

[Brantlinger’s] writing is admirably lucid, his knowledge impressive and his thesis a welcome reminder of the class bias that so often accompanies denunciations of popular fiction." —Publishers Weekly

Brantlinger is adept at discussing both the fiction itself and the social environment in which that fiction was produced and disseminated. He brings to his study a thorough knowledge of traditional and contemporary scholarship, which results in an important scholarly book on Victorian fiction and its production." —Choice

Timely, scrupulously researched, thoroughly enlightening, and steadily readable.... A work of agenda-setting historical scholarship." —Garrett Stewart

Fear of mass literacy stalks the pages of Patrick Brantlinger’s latest book. Its central plot involves the many ways in which novels and novel reading were viewed—especially by novelists themselves—as both causes and symptoms of rotting minds and moral decay among nineteenth-century readers.

Author Bio

PATRICK BRANTLINGER is professor of English and Victorian Studies at Indiana University. He served for ten years as editor of Victorian Studies and is author of The Spirit of Reform: British Literature and Politics, 1832-1867 (1977), Bread and Circuses: Theories of Mass Culture as Social Decay (1983), Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism (1988), and Fictions of State: Culture and Credit in Britain, 1694-1994 (1997).

Reviews

““[Brantlinger’s] writing is admirably lucid, his knowledge impressive and his thesis a welcome reminder of the class bias that so often accompanies denunciations of popular fiction.” —Publishers Weekly "Brantlinger is adept at discussing both the fiction itself and the social environment in which that fiction was produced and disseminated. He brings to his study a thorough knowledge of traditional and contemporary scholarship, which results in an important scholarly book on Victorian fiction and its production." —Choice “Timely, scrupulously researched, thoroughly enlightening, and steadily readable. . . . A work of agenda-setting historical scholarship.” —Garrett Stewart Fear of mass literacy stalks the pages of Patrick Brantlinger’s latest book. Its central plot involves the many ways in which novels and novel reading were viewed—especially by novelists themselves—as both causes and symptoms of rotting minds and moral decay among nineteenth-century readers. ”

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1. Introduction: The Case of the Poisonous Book
2. Gothic Toxins: The Castle of Otranto, The Monk, and Caleb Williams
3. The Reading Monster
4. How Oliver Twist Learned to Read, and What He Found
5. Poor Jack, Poor Jane: Representing the Working Class and Women in Early and Mid-Victorian Novels
6. Cashing in on the Real in Thackeray and Trollope
7. Novel Sensations of the 1860s
8. The Educations of Edward Hyde and Edwin Reardon
9. Overbooked versus Bookless Futures in Late-Victorian Fiction
Notes
Works Cited
Index