Dashing Diamond Dick and Other Classic Dime Novels/American Supernatural Tales

Article excerpt

Dashing Diamond Dick and Other Classic Dime Novels J. Randolph Cox, Ed. New York: Penguin Books, 2007.

American Supernatural Tales S.T. Joshi, Ed. New York: Penguin Books, 2007.

The nineteenth century was saturated with the literature of Beadle's Dime Novels and subsequent literature that appealed to the tastes of the public, and readers in general. Beadle's began with Mrs. Ann S. Stephens' (1810-86) "Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter, which sold 300,000 in 1860 and followed with several subsequent printings. Edward S. Ellis' "Seth Jones Jones; or, The Captives of the Frontier," based on Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, sold nearly a million copies in six months. These dime novelsalthough they sold for varying prices, were written by people from all walks of life: doctors, lawyers, teachers and journalists and any others who wanted to make an easy (or hard) dollar. The subjects (the heroes) generally hailed from history and had his various adventures on stage as long as the author's imagination grew. Though the books were read avidly, J. Randolph Cox, one of the leading authorities on the subject tells us in his preface to Dashing Diamond Dick and Other Classic Dime Novels, "The significance of the dime novel for today's reader is not as literature but as social history. It is a record of attitudes that prevailed in the United Sates from 1860 to 1915. Racial stereotypes, political opinions, and issues of gender are all there in these once-popular books. One can trace the development of the myth of the American West as well as the change in how products were marketed to a mass audience . …