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Consuming Pleasures: Active Audiences and Serial Fictions from Dickens to Soap Opera by Jennifer Hayward|
|Dickens pioneered serialization and responded to public demand. Not our favorite writer, he nonetheless is to be lauded as a capitalist among authors.|
"Audiences responded well to Dickens’s humorous but sympathetic textual representation of these urban characters. Sales soared after Sam appeared on the scene, and readers apparently wrote Dickens to ”counsel him to develop the character largelyto the utmost.” And Dickens, already showing the true responsiveness to his audience that contrasts so markedly with the simulated responsiveness of Chapman and Hall, answered by making Sam central to the Pickwick adventures."I found out about this from the blog Organizations & Markets, a sociology site friendly to Austrian economics.
This reflects both edges of the sword offered by Ludwig von Mises in The Anti-capitalist Mentality. Intellectuals whose works do not sell complain of the low quality of those that do. Thus, they dislike the marketplace and depend on subsidies of one kind or another, typically university careers. At the same time, though, von Mises notes, what sells is cheap fiction that exposes the upper classes to ridicule. Mises cited murder mysteries as the paradigm. Indeed, in his time, certainly, the English cozy and its Algonguin cousins were easy to market.
So, it remains today. Murders are the work offered for hire by powerful international cartels, or corrupt enforcement agencies such as the FBI or CIA (rather than corrupt regulators from the SEC or FDA). Murders are never the consequence of a family argument, or a love triangle... unless the players are rich or famous or both, at least in the world of the movie or book.
Ayn Rand's theory of fiction explains why she wrote about the top echelons of the social pyramid: it is easier for a grocery clerk to be attracted to the heroic qualities of a tycoon than the other way around. Yet the fact is that the rich (apparently) watch the same movies we do. ... thanks to the hard work and large profits enjoyed by Charles Dickens and his competitors.