The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Yes, I miss those days of paternalism. You know, when Victorian and Edwardian do-gooders decided what was good for the common classes, and pontificated at length on ways to improve their miseries, and inveighed against their loose morals and propensity to fall into sin at the slightest provocation.

So you won't be surprised that I am all for hiding crime fiction from the riff-raff. What on earth will they do with all that sensationalism? Probably go around the bend and commit hideous crimes against moral authorities such as myself.

What could be worse? Just imagine the deleterious effect on the pillars of society. Penny dreadfuls will bring the middle-class down to the level of monkeys! Shudder. Indeed, as The Times complained in 1851 (about W.H.Smith's predilection for stocking penny thrillers in their railway station stalls):
Every addition to the stock was positively made on the assumption that persons of the better class who constitute the larger portion of railway readers lose their accustomed taste the moment they enter the station.
That high-and-mighty man Matthew Arnold himself was drawn into the argument. In 1880, he described crime (and related psychological thrillers and terror pulp) as 
cheap ... hideous and ignoble of aspect ... tawdry novels which flare in the bookshelves of our railway stations, and which seem designed, as so much else that is produced for the use of our middle-class, for people with a low standard of life.
You tell 'em, Matthew.

[You gotta read P. D. James' little gem of a book on the evolution of crime fiction, Talking About Detective Fiction, from where I got these quotes.]


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