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Imagining the popular in contemporary French culture$
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Diana Holmes and David Looseley

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780719078163

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719078163.001.0001

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The mimetic prejudice: the popular novel in France

The mimetic prejudice: the popular novel in France

(p.85) 3 The mimetic prejudice: the popular novel in France
Imagining the popular in contemporary French culture

Diana Holmes

Manchester University Press

This chapter, which describes the popular dimension of French literary culture, presents a short history of the popular novel since mass literacy and how new technologies have democratised reading in the mid-nineteenth century. It shows how popular reading tastes have been depicted, judged and shaped by public discourses, from parliamentary debates to state and Church policies, marketing pitches, theoretical interventions and readers' own commentaries. The chapter underlines the diversity of novels classified as ‘popular’. It also argues for the cognitive and affective complexity of ‘mimetic’ readings and for the need, in any account of French literature, to pay proper attention to the stories read by the majority.

Keywords:   mass literacy, popular novel, French literary culture, mimetic readings

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