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date: 30 November 2020

Popular Fictionlocked

  • John Sutherland

Extract

Insofar as the distinction holds, literary fiction roots itself inextricably in popular fiction: materially, aesthetically, culturally, and economically. The energies of fiction surge up; they rarely trickle down. The novel, a late-arriving literary form, required a massive and literate readership, sophisticated productive and distributive apparatus, large investments of venture capital on one side, and considerable amounts of disposable income on the other. Fiction is, as Ian Watt argued half a century ago, the child born of capitalism and the natural partner of commercialism.

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