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A Feeling for Books: The Book-of-the-Month…
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A Feeling for Books: The Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and…

by Janice A. Radway

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Radway states in her introduction that hers is a ''self-divided narrator,'' its voices and perspectives in constant contention, unsynthesized, not even in her control. She may have intended to produce, through these tensions, a complex and resonant book that would express her whole and unresolved self. If that was her intention, then I think the main reason she fails to achieve it is that she avoids any cost to herself when she does use that autobiographical ''I.'' The clash between her present academic self -- the theoretical voice of Part 2 -- and her autobiographical middlebrow self is unacknowledged. These voices are not in productive contention. They operate in separate spheres. Their opposition cannot constitute a narrative. It is fine to dramatize a divided self, but the selves have to talk to each other.
 
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Book description
A Feeling For Books is at once a fascinating study of an influential cultural institution and a profoundly personal meditaion on the love and books and the experience of reading. Deftly melding cultural history, literary criticism, and authobiographical reflection, Radway traces the history of the Book-of-the-Month Club from its controversial founding in 1926 through its evolution into an organization uniquely successful in blending commerce and culture. Working as an ethnographer woud, from interviews with club employees and with records left by the club's founders and original judges, Radway reconstructs the standards and ethos as well as the tastes and passions that drove club officials. In the process, she provides an insightful look at the attractions of middlebrow culture and an intriguing account of middle-class Americans' desire to display the tastefulo signs of learning and education. -B&N
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807848301, Paperback)

Deftly melding ethnography, cultural history, literary criticism, and autobiographical reflection, A Feeling for Books is at once an engaging study of the Book-of-the-Month Club's influential role as a cultural institution and a profoundly personal meditation about the experience of reading. Janice Radway traces the history of the famous mail-order book club from its controversial founding in 1926 through its evolution into an enterprise uniquely successful in blending commerce and culture.

Framing her historical narrative with writing of a more personal sort, Radway reflects on the contemporary role of the Book-of-the-Month Club in American cultural history and in her own life. Her detailed account of the standards and practices employed by the club's in-house editors is also an absorbing story of her interactions with those editors. Examining her experiences as a fourteen-year-old reader of the club's selections and, later, as a professor of literature, she offers a series of rigorously analytical yet deeply personal readings of such beloved novels as Marjorie Morningstar and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Rich and rewarding, this book will captivate and delight anyone who is interested in the history of books and in the personal and transformative experience of reading.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:23 -0400)

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