"[Brantlinger's] writing is admirably lucid, his knowledge impressive and his thesis a welcome reminder of the class bias that so often accompanies denunciations of popular fiction." -Publishers Weekly
"Brantlinger is adept at discussing both the fiction itself and the social environment in which that fiction was produced and disseminated. He brings to his study a thorough knowledge of traditional and contemporary scholarship, which results in an important scholarly book on Victorian fiction and its production." -Choice
"Timely, scrupulously researched, thoroughly enlightening, and steadily readable.... A work of agenda-setting historical scholarship." -Garrett Stewart
Fear of mass literacy stalks the pages of Patrick Brantlinger's latest book. Its central plot involves the many ways in which novels and novel reading were viewed-especially by novelists themselves-as both causes and symptoms of rotting minds and moral decay among nineteenth-century readers.