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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Vicki Richman <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 16 Mar 1996 11:07:05 -0500
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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[log in to unmask] has written:

> I've always assumed he took on that entire scene of sentimental
> Victorian 'poetry'.  The Victorians had a 'death industry' every
> bit as saturating as our contempory sex industry.  Their popular
> poetry is absolutely stuffed with "alas" and "woe".  It wasn't simply
> Poe who got rapturous over the deaths of fragile and beautiful
> virgins.  It was that same part of the reading public that now
> slurps up Silhouette romances.

They were called "penny dreadfuls" in the latter half of the
19th century, and were indeed a major industry. Writers
really good at it could turn out a 400-pager in two or three
weeks. They were frequently serialized, like today's soap
operas, to get readers to buy a novel a month.

My favorite is _Varney the Vampire_, spanning about 2000
pages 40 years before Stoker's _Dracula_. The author of
_Varney_ is known only by a pen name, although there are
some scholarly theories.

The genre is the direct ancestor of television fiction.

Vicki Richman               [log in to unmask]            National Writers Union
Bedford, Brooklyn NY            PGP 2.6               UAW Local 1981, AFL/CIO
"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does.
That's his."  -Oscar Wilde