Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Shelf Life of "Popular" Novels

In a catalogue of forthcoming titles for spring 1932, the publisher Stanley Paul lists novels by the following authors:

Granville Squires
Hilary Dupacq
Nora K Strange
Warner Fabian
Monte Barrett
Hamilton Drummond
Edith Nepean
Alan Bendle
Frank Hird
Arthur Meeker
Norman Gortley
Madeleine Munday
Arthur Plummer
Alice Colver
Emilie Loring

A few names ring a faint bell, but are any of them still in print? I couldn't even find photos of these authors on Google images, apart from one of Edith Nepean talking to Marlene Dietrich in 1949.

However, in another catalogue by a more upmarket publisher, at least one in four of the names is familiar to the modern reader, suggesting that good writing endures more than "popular" fiction.

From my own experience, after a year of looking at thousands of old books, the gulf between art and entertainment is even more tangible than I'd thought.


David said...

They may be long forgotten, but what a magnificent collection of names!

Thomas at My Porch said...

That is why I tend to read older books that have stood the test of time, or been resurrected by a smaller press. But sometimes the book of the moment can really hit the spot.

Steerforth said...

Magnificent names, I agree.

As for the book of the moment, yes, there are certain titles like "The Dice Man" or "Fear of Flying" which seemed to capture the reading public's imagination more than most novels I can think of, but haven't aged particularly well.