Popular Literature "Formula" Fiction - Essay

"Formula" Fiction

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)


Cynthia S. Hamilton

SOURCE: "Formula and the Marketplace," in Western and Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction in America: From High Noon to Midnight, Macmillan Press, 1987, pp. 50-67.

[In the following essay, Hamilton defines the term "formula literature" and traces its role in the mass production and selling of books.]

Writers, editors, readers and critics all talk about formula, but it would be unwise to assume that all agree on the nature of the beast. For critics, formula is a necessary tool, a part of their taxonomy of literature; it allows them to classify works and to talk about the dynamics of the...

(The entire section is 11694 words.)