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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The onset of modernity during the Romantic period created increasing demand for guides to, manuals for, and analyses of it. These were most accessible when fictionalized, and publishers and book-lenders hastened to exploit loosened copyright, technological innovation, inventive capital deployment, aggressive marketing/advertising, and new commercial–cultural institutions to meet and stimulate the demand. Writers devised new techniques for representing modernity’s central themes of self-reflexive personal identity, ‘pure’ relationships from intimacy through sociability to citizenship, new configurations of time and space, increased conditions of risk and trust, and expanding abstract systems from finance to government. Much of the fiction published in the period was first published earlier, but readers’ ability to read the old in new light prompted publishers to rework the old canon alongside the new. Though few works were republished beyond the period, the popular genres fashioned then founded ‘mass-market’ fiction much as we still know it.

Keywords: fiction, publishing, reading, modernity, popular literature, print media, fiction genres, fiction techniques, fiction criticism, social class

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