By Janice A. Radway
Janice Radway means that the various selection of books instructed through the Book-of-the-Month membership through the years has been instrumental in formulating middlebrow literary flavor in the USA and in defining the wishes of the center category. this is her passionate exploration of analyzing, literary pros, and the nature of tradition.
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Extra resources for A feeling for books: the Book-of-the-Month Club, literary taste, and middle-class desire
I thank him especially, though, for his commentary on the first draft because his observations helped me to clarify what I was trying to do and enabled me to see how far I still had to go. I am grateful, too, to Joy Kasson for her generous and helpful reader's report on the manuscript. Her sensitive comments about form were especially useful as I tried to integrate better the disparate parts of the book. At a very early stage in my research, Dick Ohmann, Alan Trachtenberg, Paul DiMaggio, and Roland Marchand asked the hard questions that pushed me to begin my historical inquiry into the origins of the club.
Colleagues near and far have provided immeasurable support and assistance. I thank Fred Jameson for the many ways he has offered encouragement and for his generosity with leave time and, especially, for the continuing Page xi inspiration of his own work. I am particularly grateful to Barbara Herrnstein Smith for her shrewd and insightful questions about an early draft of Part II. Those questions prompted helpful self-reflection, a process that ultimately pushed me to write the more autobiographical sections of the book.
Slowly they demonstrated to me that, for them, romances were not only subtle and varied but immediately relevant to the conditions of their daily lives. They showed me that romance fiction constituted a complex, Page 6 living literature in the context of their day-to-day concerns, and this only increased my doubts about the intrinsic status of textual complexity and the purported universality of the sacred literary canon. Those doubts, in fact, were the source of my first, early desire to investigate the Book-of-the-Month Club and its membership.