In the Company of Books
Literature and Its "Classes" in Nineteenth-Century America
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Table of Contents
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This book benefited from the support and contributions of many colleagues, organizations, and institutions, and my gratitude to each of them far exceeds the confines of these acknowledgments. Donald Ross deserves special thanks for his invaluable guidance and criticism during my research...
Prologue: Following the Reader
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I n the fall of 1865, Henry James Jr. finished reading the latest transatlantic sensation, Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Aurora Floyd, and sat down in the third-floor bedroom of his family’s Beacon Hill home to sum up its dubious merits for the readers of the Nation. Although he was...
Part One: From “Girls and Boys’’ to Tomboys and Bad Boys
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Like James’s comparison of the many “little publics” that make up the “great public” to the states of the American Union, Horace Scudder’s metaphor of children’s literature as “a distinct principality of the Kingdom of Letters” (178) reflects a keen awareness of the opposing forces of...
1. Wonder Books
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In December 1834 an anonymous tale titled “Little Annie’s Ramble” appeared in the Youth’s Keepsake: A Christmas and New Year’s Gift for Young People (dated 1835), an annual gift book edited by Park Benjamin. 1 Seemingly sentimental and innocuous, the sketch describes various...
2. Stories of their Lives
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Writing in 1878 and 1886 respectively, William G. Sumner (681) and Edward G. Salmon (515) pointed to an increasingly conspicuous trend in British and American juvenile literature: the development of distinct genres written expressly for boys or expressly for girls. To today’s...
3. Boy’s Life
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A lthough American boys had a literature of their own from the 1850s on, not until 1876 did a text appear that would acquire the stature among books for boys that Little Women had gained among books for girls. Yet the success of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was not...
Part Two: The Masses and the Classes
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In 1873, three years before the publication of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and a decade before Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain coauthored his first novel, The Gilded Age: A Tale of To-day, with fellow “boy-book” author and later Harper’s New Monthly Magazine editor Charles Dudley Warner. The...
4. Seaside and Fireside
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In the ninth chapter of The Rise of Silas Lapham, a novel about a self-made millionaire who seeks acceptance among Boston’s “oldmoney” elite, William Dean Howells throws two of his characters together in an understated scene in which books form the principal item of...
5. Innocence Abroad
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In December 1875, at the start of a publishing season that would witness keen interest in the already popular genres of travel writing, women’s fiction, and internationally themed literature, the Chicago house of Jansen, McClurg & Company released a new novella by a young author...
6. A Blue and Gold Mystique
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In her last book, a collection of stories titled A Garland for Girls (1888); (see figure 9), Louisa May Alcott repeatedly emphasizes the importance of reading in the lives of her characters.1 In “May Flowers,” six blue-blooded Boston girls meet regularly to discuss books read in...
Epilogue: The Margins of the Marketplace
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In The Anatomy of American Popular Culture, 1840–1861 (1959), a classic of cultural studies criticism, Carl Bode remarks upon the fortuitous concurrence of two revolutionary events in the nation’s history: “the advent of the industrial revolution in the publishing business” and...
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Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2006