By Janice A. Radway
Janice Radway means that the various choice of books prompt by way of the Book-of-the-Month membership through the years has been instrumental in formulating middlebrow literary style in the USA and in defining the needs of the center classification. here's her passionate exploration of interpreting, 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
Although I inferred from seminar discussions that I ought to prefer Henry James to Anne Tyler, Faulkner to John Le Carré, Pound to Carlos Castañeda, and Gravity's Rainbow to The Thorn Birds, I could not always discipline my preferences as I thought I should. I still liked the books I read at night a lot more than the books I read for my classes. 's I saw all about me. Gradually I managed to acquire a new set of interpretive moves techniques, really for rendering the difficult and obscure language of the books I was reading comprehensible, if not entirely transparent.
I was puzzled by all this remembering and worried about what it all meant. I was especially troubled by the peculiar, triumphant feel of these memories, a sense of vindication almost, as if the editors' talk suddenly justified a past of which I had learned to be ashamed. It was easy enough to discount my private meditations as irrelevant to the scholarly project that engaged me until a moment about midway into my fieldwork year. In trying to read systematically sixty years' worth of the club's catalog, the Book-of-the-Month Club News, I discovered that I had actually read more than fifty of the titles sent out by the Page 11 Book-of-the-Month Club in the years between 1950 and 1963.
I had learned of its existence from a professor whom I particularly admired, the faculty member responsible for teaching the history of literary criticism, a course newly prestigious in 1975 as the first wave of what became known as continental theory made its way across the Atlantic. When he referred to it familiarly as "the OED" and everyone else in the seminar seemed to understand what he was talking about, I recognized that here was another mark of the distance that separated me from those more authentically cultured.
A feeling for books: the Book-of-the-Month Club, literary taste, and middle-class desire by Janice A. Radway