Tuesday, May 3, 2016

the "penny dreadful"

What a well-written and informative piece, Hephzibah Anderson's BBC article on the "penny dreadful" of Victorian times. Struck the perfect balance between frolic and social commentary, I thought.

Echoing into these times so many years later was this paragraph:
Eventually, the debate evolved to question the extent to which literature can shape character. When 13-year-old Robert Coombes, the subject of Kate Summerscale’s new book, The Wicked Boy, was arrested for murdering his mother in London in 1895, the prosecution naturally sought to scapegoat penny dreadfuls. But this time most of the media agreed that they played little part in his matricidal actions. As the Pall Mall Gazette noted: “The truth is that in respect to the effect of reading in boys of the poorer class the world has got into one of those queer illogical stupidities that so easily beset it. In every other age and class man is held responsible for his reading, and not reading responsible for man. The books a man or woman reads are less the making of character than the expression of it”. [Italics added]

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