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In the 1940s and 1950s, the publishing industries of the United State and Great Britain were radically altered by the advent of mass market paperback publishers including Pocket Books, Penguin Books, Avon, Bantam, Signet, and others. For two decades, it was not uncommon to see critically acclaimed literature such as Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man or George Orwell's 1984 sold in wire racks alongside books with titles like "Kiss Me, Deadly" or "Exit for a Dame." In this 2015 New Yorker essay, Louis Menand traces the history of the era of mass market paperbacks, or pulp fiction, and reviews English scholar Paula Rabinowitz's book American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street. In his essay, Menand illustrates how battles to regulate or ban certain pulp fiction titles ultimately changed the views and practices of the publishing industry. In doing so, this thorough essay provides insight into both the history of reading in the twentieth century as well as the history of debates centering on censorship.
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Date of Scout Publication 2017-09-29
Archived Scout Publication URL https://scout.wisc.edu/report/2017/0929

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