It often seems that there is a competition between popular literature and artistic literature, with each one claiming the right to call itself the greater benefit to society. Ragtime is one of the few novels that transcends this competition completely, having proven itself with undeniable success in both areas. Some critics have picked out miscellaneous faults, but the novel was received with widespread praise when it was published in 1975. Most reviewers agreed that Doctorow took the combination of historical and imaginary characters, a technique used often in historical novels but with only weak results, and manipulated it into a rich blend that is entertaining, challenging, and true to the spirit of the times. The reading public agreed: unlike many experimental works of art whose freshness makes them too difficult for widespread audiences, Ragtime became a best-seller in its initial hardcover edition. For a period of time in the mid-seventies, it seemed there was a copy in every home. E. L. Doctorow became a household name, and each new book he releases to this day is still considered a significant literary event, although it would be unreal to think that an event like Ragtime could occur more than once in one writer's lifetime. The novel's influence on popular culture continues today; it was adapted into a major Broadway musical in the late 1990s.