“Misreading and the Marketplace” explores how the culture of popular reading in nineteenth-century America played up a specific kind of critique: the refusal to share social anxieties at the heart of British novels. From excitement about the revolutionary mob that threatens Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities to reconsiderations of Svengali, the villain of George Du Maurier's Trilby, American reactions and revisions treated British fears playfully. I argue that this form of misreading reflected more than the simple desire for national distinction. Tension between American audiences and English novelists presented an exaggerated version of a gap between readers and authors that an emerging consumerist culture was making apparent throughout the transatlantic world. Understanding this broader context helps explain why the late works of both Dickens and Du Maurier seem to echo their American misreaders, reimagining social nightmares as pleasant fantasies.
Research Article|November 01 2016
Hugh McIntosh; Misreading and the Marketplace: Dickens and Du Maurier in a Commercial Age. Novel 1 November 2016; 49 (3): 429–448. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-3651183
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