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The notion that it is possible to distinguish highbrow, lowbrow, and middlebrow by inherent qualities is one that was generally accepted ion the twentieth century, but has been treated as increasingly problematic with the rise of cultural studies in the twenty-first century.
In her own period, du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca, would have been considered popular fiction, following in the tradition of the Gothic (late 18th and early 19th century) and the sensation novel (mid-to-late 19th century), with a typical combination of suspense and romance plot. The particular plot twist is quite original, and generally the plotting and narrative strategies of the novel are skilful, but the characterization and literary style are pedestrian.
The novel is widely acknowledged and enjoyable reading due to its plot structure, but still not a major literary work because it really isn’t a book that repays multiple re-readings.
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