Literaire levenslessen | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 19, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1384-5829
  • E-ISSN: 2352-118X



Presenting the case of one of the first bestselling novels by C. and M. Scharten-Antink, this article analyzes how at the beginning of the twentieth century the middlebrow novel was introduced in the Netherlands, which gave rise to a rapidly growing tradition of literary midcult. This new kind of novel, it is argued, is not merely a new genre, yet is a product of new cultural practices in which authors and publishers cooperated. In order to produce the middlebrow novel for a vast and new reading public, they combined existing, longstanding models with new ones. The concept of ‘model’ is used here to analyze the new middlebrow practice from three interrelated perspectives. First, I conceive of ‘model’ as the repertoire, the sets of rules available at a given time, on which authors and publishers could base their choices and actions. Second, I argue that, in literary criticism, the new middlebrow novel soon rose to the status of a model itself. Third, I demonstrate that the major goal of the middlebrow novel was, by way of ‘fictional modelization’, to provide the reader with life-lessons, models to live with.


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