Dime Novels Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

Charles M. Harvey (essay date 1907)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Dime Novel in American Life,” in The Atlantic Monthly, July, 1907, pp. 37-45.

[In the following essay, Harvey recounts the development of the dime novel in America.]


Are not more crimes perpetrated these days in the name of the dime novels than Madame Roland ever imagined were committed in the name of liberty? It looks that way. Nearly every sort of misdemeanor into which the fantastic element enters, from train robbery to house-burning, is laid to them.

But these offending books must be only base counterfeits of the originals of their name. When the average American of fifty years of age or upward hears...

(The entire section is 5512 words.)

Christine Bold (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Malaeska's Revenge; or, The Dime Novel Tradition in Popular Fiction,” in Wanted Dead or Alive: The American West in Popular Culture, edited by Richard Aquila, University of Illinois Press, 1996, pp. 21-42.

[In the essay below, Bold examines the role of dime novels, pulp fiction, and the commodification of literature in transforming views about the West.]

Read collectively dime novels and their descendants tell the story of the frontier West's commodification in popular literature. This process was mediated by changing historical circumstances and individual authorial contributions, from the first intersection of mass literature and westward movement in the...

(The entire section is 8374 words.)

Paul J. Erickson (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Judging Books by Their Covers: Format, the Implied Reader, and the ‘Degeneration’ of the Dime Novel,” in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture, Vol. 12, No. 3, September, 1998, pp. 247-63.

[In the essay below, Erickson argues that the transformation of the distribution and packaging of dime novels—rather than fundamental changes in the content of the stories—led to their decline.]

[The Beadle publications] are without exception unobjectionable morally, whatever fault be found with their literary style and composition. They do not even obscurely pander to vice or excite the passions.


(The entire section is 7286 words.)