Leavis, Q. D., Fiction and the Reading Public (London: Pimlico, 2000; first pub. 1932)
This highly influential polemic (based on her PhD thesis) sought to examine public taste in reading through an in-depth study of the production of books, from the advice of editors, the machinations of promotion, to the recommendations of the assistant on the shop-floor. Leavis aimed to be 'athropological', but she brings to bear on her study the full weight of an increasing pessimism and paranoia among the cultural elite she aims to be part of: she believes that literary culture is in a process of disintegration, soon to be dominated by the lowbrow pulp, and more threateningly, the middlebrow.
This is one of the most useful contemporary discussions of the middlebrow, and ironically, offers rare critical traces of the authors that Leavis sought to demonstrate were unworthy of attention: Warwick Deeping, John Galsworthy, Gilbert Frankau, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Hugh Walpole.
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