Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 07 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The close of the Victorian era is often regarded as marking the inception of the modern system of popular genres. But an examination of some conspicuous anomalies in recent histories of the nineteenth-century literary field suggests that the emergence of the kinds of generic labels by which readers oriented themselves to the market for popular fiction was a messy, uneven, and never fully completed process. Tracing the pivotal role played by Robert Louis Stevenson in the modernization of romance novels, particularly his influence on the rise of the single volume imperial adventure story, this chapter looks at the latter’s eclipse by two overlapping yet frequently rival domestic subgenres: the spy thriller and the detective story. Genres seldom comprise neat self-contained narrative structures, but are best understood as loose clusters of literary devices, branching off in a variety of competing directions, and creating what critic Franco Moretti has called ‘super-niches’.

Keywords: best-seller, genre system, imperial adventure, niche, triple-decker, spy thriller

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.