At the time Jane Austen’s novels were published – between 1811 and 1818 – English literature was not part of any academic curriculum. In addition, fiction was under strenuous attack. Certain religious and political groups felt novels had the power to make so-called immoral characters so interesting that young readers would identify with them; these groups also considered novels to be of little practical use. Even Coleridge, certainly no literary reactionary, spoke for many when the asserted that “novel-reading occasions the destruction of the mind’s powers.”
These attitudes towards novels help explain why Austen received little attention from early nineteenth-century literary cities. (In any case a novelist published anonymously, as Austen was, would not be likely to receive much critical attention.) The literary response that was accorded to her, however, was often as incisive as twentieth-century criticism. In his attack in 1816 on novelistic portrayals “outside of ordinary experience,” for example. Scott made an insightful remark about the merits of Austen’s fiction.
Her novels, wrote Scott, “present to the reader an accurate and exact picture of ordinary everyday people and places, reminiscent of seventeenth-century Flemish painting.” Scott did not use the word ‘realism’, but he undoubtedly used a standard of realistic probability in judging novels. The critic Whately did not use the word ‘realism’, either, but he expressed agreement with Scott’s evaluation, and went on to suggest the possibilities for moral instruction in what we have called Austen’s ‘realistic method’ her characters, wrote Whately, are persuasive agents for moral truth since they are ordinary persons “so clearly evoked that we feel an interest in their fate as if it were our own.” Moral instruction, explained Whately, is more likely to be effective when conveyed through recongnizably human and interesting characters than when imparted by a sermonizing narrator. Whitely especially praised Austen’s ability to create character who “mingle goodness and villainy, weakness and virtue, as in life they are always mingled. “Whitely concluded his remarks by comparing Austen’s art of characterization to Dickens’, starting his preference for Austen’s.
Yet, the response of nineteenth-century literary critics to Austen was not always so laudatory, and often anticipated the reservations of twentieth-century literary critics. An example of such a response was Lewes complaint in 1859 that Austen’s range of subject and characters was too narrow. Praising her verisimilitude, Lewes added that, nonetheless her focus was too often only upon the unlofty and the commonplace. (Twentieth-century Marxists, on the other hand, were to complain about what they saw as her exclusive emphasis on a lofty upper middle class.) In any case having being rescued by literary critics from neglect and indeed gradually lionized by them, Austen steadily reached, by the mid-nineteenth century, the enviable pinnacle of being considered controversial.
The author would most likely agree to which of the following as the best measure of a writer’s literary success?
First introduced in 1927, The Hardy Boys Mystery Stories are a series of books about the adventures of brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, teenaged detectives who solve one baffling mystery after another. The Hardy Boys were so popular among young boys that in 1930 a similar series was created for girls featuring a sixteen-year-old detective named Nancy Drew. The cover of each volume of The Hardy Boys states that he author of the series is Franklin W. Dixon; the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories are supposedly written by Carolyn Keene. Over the years, though, many fans of both series have been surprised to find out that Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene are not real people. If Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene never existed, then who wrote The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries?
The Hardy Boys and the Nancy Drew books were written through a process called ghostwriting. A ghostwriter writes a book according to a specific formula. While ghostwriters are paid for writing the books, their authorship is not acknowledged, and their names do not appear on the published books. Ghostwriters can write books for children or adults, the content of which is unspecific. Sometimes they work on book series with a lot of individual titles, such as The Hardy Boys and the Nancy Drew series.
The initial idea for both The Hardy Boys and the Nancy Drew series was developed by a man named Edward Stratemeyer, who owned a publishing company that specialized in children’s book.
Stratemeyer noticed the increasing popularity of mysteries among adult, and surmised that children would enjoy reading mysteries about younger detectives with whom they could identify. Stratemeyer first developed each book with an outline describing the plot and setting. Once he completed the outline, Stratemeyer then hired a ghostwriter to convert it into a book of slightly over 200 pages. After the ghostwriter had written a draft of a book, he or she would send it back to Stratemeyer, who would make a list of corrections and mail it back to the ghostwriter. The ghostwriter would revise the book according to Stratemeyer’s instructions and then return it to him. Once Stratemeyer approved the book, it was ready for publication.
Because each series ran for so many years, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys both had a number of different ghostwriters producing books; however, the first ghostwrites for each series proved to be the most influential. The initial ghostwriter for The Hardy Boys was a Canadian journalist named Leslie McFarlane. A few years later, Mildred A. Wirt, a young writer from lowa, began writing the Nancy Drew books. Although they were using prepared outlines as guides, both McFarlane and Wirt developed the characters themselves. The personalities of Frank and Joe Hardy and Nancy arose directly from McFarlane’s and wirt’s imaginations. For example, Mildred Wirt had been a star college athelete and gave Nancy similar athletic abilities. The ghostwriters were also responsible for numerous plot and setting details. Leslie McFarlane used elements of his small C fictional hometown.
Although The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books were very popular with children, not everyone approved of them. Critics thought their plots were unrealistic and even far-fetched, since most teenagers did not experience the adventures Frank and Joe Hardy or Nancy Drew did. The way the books were written also attracted criticism. Many teachers and librarians objected to the ghostwriting process, claiming it was designed to produce books quickly rather than create quality literature. Some libraries – including the New York Public Library – even refused to include the books in their children’s collections. Ironically, this decision actually helped sales of his books, because children simply purchased them when they were unavailable in local libraries.
Regardless of the debates about their literary merit, each series of books has exerted an undeniable influence on American and even global culture. Most Americans have never heard of Edward Stratemeyer, Leslie McFarlane, or Mildred wirt, but people throughout the world are familiar with Nancy Drew and Frank and Joe Hardy.
According to the passage, some teachers and librarians objected to ghostwritten books such as They Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mystery Stories because they
The purpose of education is to make the student an expert in his subject. This must be clearly understood, and mere mudding through lessons and lectures and books and passing examinations are relegated to secondary importance as means to the end-which is excellence in the field chosen.
But there are so many fields, and no man can become an expert in all the fields it is necessary to decide which fields are important ones that a man should know well.
It is clear that one’s own work is the most important. This has been realized and modern civilization has accordingly provided vocational education. It is now possible to acquire high professional skill in the various fields, medicine, engineering production, commerce and so on-but with good and bad mixed together, and no standard for guidance.
The purpose of education is to make the student: