The Reading Lesson

The Reading Lesson : The Threat of Mass Literacy in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction

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[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 WeeklyBrantlinger 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." -ChoiceTimely, scrupulously researched, thoroughly enlightening, and steadily readable.... A work of agenda-setting historical scholarship." -Garrett StewartFear 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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 264 pages
  • 156 x 234.2 x 19.8mm | 452.86g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 0253212499
  • 9780253212498
  • 759,587

About Patrick M. Brantlinger

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).show more

Review quote

"Timely, scrupulously researched, thoroughly enlightening, and steadily readable... Here is a book about readers that is genuinely for readers... Brantlinger catches once again the pulse of recent Victorian studies... A work of agenda-setting historical scholarship." Garrett Stewart, University of Iowa "[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 Weeklyshow more

Table of contents

Acknowledgments1. Introduction: The Case of the Poisonous Book2. Gothic Toxins: The Castle of Otranto, The Monk, and Caleb Williams3. The Reading Monster4. How Oliver Twist Learned to Read, and What He Found5. Poor Jack, Poor Jane: Representing the Working Class and Women in Early and Mid-Victorian Novels6. Cashing in on the Real in Thackeray and Trollope7. Novel Sensations of the 1860s8. The Educations of Edward Hyde and Edwin Reardon9. Overbooked versus Bookless Futures in Late-Victorian FictionNotesWorks CitedIndexshow more

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