The German Bestseller in the Late Nineteenth Century

Benedict Schofield (Editor), Charlotte Woodford (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In the late nineteenth century, writers of fiction in German were able to reach a mass audience for the first time. The rapid expansion of fiction in German in this period was very closely related to publishers’ exploration of new markets, for example serialised novels in journals read by the middle-class family. With fast-moving plots, well-sketched characters, and more than a hint of melodrama, works offered the reader insights into the modern world, as well as pleasure and reassurance, at a time of rapid social change. This volume investigates the literary strategies that made such fiction not only so successful in its own era, but of enduring popularity throughout the twentieth century and beyond. This volume analyses in its material context a variety of types of fiction which had a strong appeal to the contemporary reader. It contends that there is a rich crossover between popular forms and the literature of ‘high culture’, which often draws on the structures, themes, and modes of popular literature, and is enriched by this process. A bestseller is not by definition a low-brow or insignificant book. It is above all a success; ‘good’ or ‘bad’, readers identify with it, and do so en masse. With its focus on the relationship between aesthetic techniques and material conditions, this volume offers new perspectives on the period of German poetic realism that will make it valuable reading for researchers of the period, as well as highly suitable for undergraduate and graduate students of German or comparative literature.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationRochester NY
PublisherCamden House
Number of pages286
ISBN (Print)9781571134875
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameStudies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture


  • German Literature
  • Bestseller
  • 19th Century
  • Gustav Freytag
  • Felix Dahn
  • Wilhelm Jensen
  • Clara Viebig
  • Berthold Auerbach
  • Adalbert Stifter
  • Theodor Storm
  • Balduin Moellhausen
  • Eugenie Marlitt
  • Thomas Mann
  • Bertha von Suttner
  • German prose
  • Bestselling fiction
  • Mass market fiction


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