By Janice A. Radway
Janice Radway means that the numerous selection of books prompt by means of the Book-of-the-Month membership through the years has been instrumental in formulating middlebrow literary flavor in the USA and in defining the needs of the center classification. this is her passionate exploration of studying, literary pros, and the nature of tradition.
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Extra info for A feeling for books: the Book-of-the-Month Club, literary taste, and middle-class desire
I send special thanks to the members of my writing group, Betsy Cox, Cathy Davidson, Alice Kaplan, Jane Tompkins, and Marianna Torgovnik. They asked me to join the group at a key stage in the writing of this manuscript, and I will always be grateful for the many ways in which they supported me as I tried to compose in a new voice and a new mode. I feel as if I have learned more from them about the wondrous, variegated pleasures of language than in all the years of my education thus far. This is a much more readable book for their insight and assistance.
I did not take up the subject of the dissertation again until I had crossed paths with the Book-of-the-Month Club once more in an encounter I insisted at first on calling serendipitous, the chance discovery of an interesting subject and a useful body of data. Only in the long effort to write of the history and people behind those magical, talismanic, postage-stamp books have I come to recognize why this subject, particularly, and at that moment, especially, seemed Page 5 intellectually compelling and fraught with possibility.
The books that came to me as high culture never seemed to prompt the particular shudder, the frisson I associated with the books of my childhood, because they carried with them not mere promise alone but also a threat, the threat Page 4 that somehow I might fail to understand, might fail to recognize their reputed meaning and inherent worth. I developed, as a consequence, an aloof, somewhat puzzled relationship to "Literature" and to the ways of reading required and rewarded in my graduate seminars.
A feeling for books: the Book-of-the-Month Club, literary taste, and middle-class desire by Janice A. Radway