Must Read: Rediscovering American Bestsellers: From Charlotte Temple to The Da Vinci Code

Must Read: Rediscovering American Bestsellers: From Charlotte Temple to The Da Vinci Code

By: Thomas Ruys Smith (editor), Sarah Churchwell (editor)Hardback

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What is it about certain books that makes them bestsellers? Why do some of these books remain popular for centuries, and others fade gently into obscurity? And why is it that when scholars do turn their attention to bestsellers, they seem only to be interested in the same handful of blockbusters, when so many books that were once immensely popular remain under-examined? Addressing those and other equally pressing questions about popular literature, Must Read is the first scholarly collection to offer both a survey of the evolution of American bestsellers as well as critical readings of some of the key texts that have shaped the American imagination since the nation's founding. Focusing on a mix of enduring and forgotten bestsellers, the essays in this collection consider 18th and 19th century works, like Charlotte Temple or Ben-Hur, that were once considered epochal but are now virtually ignored; 20th century favorites such as The Sheik and Peyton Place; and 21st century blockbusters including the novels of Nicholas Sparks, The Kite Runner, and The Da Vinci Code.

About Author

Sarah Churchwell is Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of East Anglia, UK. She is the author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe (Granta 2004), and has published numerous scholarly articles and introductions. Her new book, Careless People, about F Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby will be published by Virago (UK) and Penguin (US) in early 2013. She has a monthly column on cultural criticism for the New Statesman, and writes regularly for newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian, the Independent, the Observer, the TLS, the New York Times Book Review, the Times, and the Telegraph. She frequently appears on television and radio, including as a regular panelist on The Review Show (BBC2). Thomas Ruys Smith is a Lecturer in American Literature and Culture in the School of American Studies at the University of East Anglia, UK. He is the author of Southern Queen: New Orleans in the Nineteenth Century (Continuum, 2011), River of Dreams: Imagining the Mississippi Before Mark Twain (Louisiana State University Press, 2007) and the editor of Blacklegs, Card Sharps and Confidence Men: Nineteenth-Century Mississippi River Gambling Stories (Louisiana State University Press, 2010). He is currently at work on an exploration of Mark Twain's relationship with the Mississippi River.


1. Must Read: Rediscovering American Bestsellers Sarah Churchwell and Thomas Ruys Smith 2. Missing Numbers: The Partial History of the Bestseller Sarah Garland 3. The History of Charlotte Temple (1791) as an American Bestseller Gideon Mailer 4. 'Like Beads Strung Together': E.D.E.N. Southworth and the Aesthetics of Popular Serial Fiction Rachel Ihara 5. Ten Nights in a Bar-Room (1854) and the Visual Culture of Temperance William Gleason 6. 'The Man Without a Country' (1863): Treason, Expansionism, and the History of a 'Bestselling' Short Story Hsuan Hsu 7. Exhilaration and Enlightenment in the Biblical Bestseller: Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ (1880) James Russell 8. `Absolutely Punk': Queer Economies of Desire in Tarzan of the Apes (1912) J. Michelle Coghlan 9. Ornamentalism: Desire, Disavowal and Displacement in E.M. Hull's The Sheik (1919) Sarah Garland 10. Small Change? Emily Post's Etiquette (1922-2011) Grace Lees-Maffei 11. Blockbuster Feminism: Peyton Place (1956) and the Uses of Scandal Ardis Cameron 12. Crimes and Bestsellers: Mario Puzo Path to The Godfather (1969) Evan Brier 12. Master of Sentiment: The Romances of Nicholas Sparks Sarah Churchwell 13.The Kite Runner Transnational Allegory: Anatomy of an Afghan-American Bestseller Georgiana Banita 14. The Fiction of History: The Da Vinci Code (2003) and the Virtual Public Sphere Stephen Mexal Contributor Biographies Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781441150684
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 384
  • ID: 9781441150684
  • weight: 590
  • ISBN10: 1441150684

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