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The Making of Middlebrow Culture
The proliferation of book clubs, reading groups, "outline" volumes, and new forms of book reviewing in the first half of the twentieth century influenced the tastes and pastimes of millions of Americans. By examining both the form and content of this popularization of literature, Joan Rubin recaptures here an activity that brought the humanities to the general public on an ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published March 1st 1992 by University of North Carolina Press
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You might subtitle this book "how the American book industry tried to get the middle and lower classes to buy and read books in the first four decades of the 20th century." Though, honestly, that makes it sound a lot more interesting than it is. Rubin takes a largely biographical approach to her topic, and most of her subjects are rather obscure (especially as they recede in the mists of time): Stuart Pratt Sherman, Irita Van Doren, John Erskine, Will Durant, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, William Lyo ...more
This book is so replete and exhaustive that I found it to be tedious. I admire the scope of research, but for pleasure reading a similar book entitled, "A Great Idea at the Time" was a much more enjoyable read. Beyond all the biographies, a few powerful themes emerged: the war in upper education between the generalists and the specialists, the way "culture" is acquired -- through education or personality, and the frisson between knowledge and information. In my own lifetime it is hard to imagine ...more