Pet Book 9 – Serialization

Bleak House and Uncle Tom’s Cabin were published serially in weekly newspapers – which meant that the writing was on going; there would not have been a full text before it was sectioned in newspapers. At first, when imagining the serialization of some of my favourite novels, this seemed unorthodox. I started to wonder whether I’d be able to ‘keep up’ with the time period between instalments – however, I think this largely has to do with content and style. When reading the different instalments of Bleak House and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, although Bleak House’s face value appeared dense, the storyline was not particularly hard to follow and didn’t jump between characters. Perhaps some novels of the thriller genre would not have fitted this publishing method as well as these texts.

Not long after the publishing of my PET Book, Charles Dickens published Pickwick Papers in instalments over a period of twenty months between 1826 and 1837. In spreading the cost of literature over a period of time, reading was made more affordable, and therefore accessible, to many.

However, as my PET Book was not published serially, I thought it would be worth looking into how this would have worked similarly in newspapers. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was said to have (supposedly) been the text that spurred the civil war. This text gave a “sense of topical coverage of the current moment”, (Winship) which is similar to Bleak House, and many of Dickens’ novels, which aimed to highlight the truth behind the social classes of London in the Victorian Era – in particular the darkness that this entailed. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published alongside a passage from the Fugitive Slave Act, which juxtaposed the novel – the placement within the newspaper created an effect within the audience (although most likely a controversial one). The Era, an anti slavery newspaper, published these alongside each other to start the conversation on civil rights and the heinous nature of slavery.

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and The Grave similarly do this as they uncover the issues within their own social commentaries about life and death – in particular the ways in which death strips us all of materialistic values, wealthy or poor, we all have the same end result. In Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, he focuses on the treatment of the poor and that even though they cannot build monuments to commemorate their deaths – they should still be treated with respect through their memorial.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I think the presence of each of the poems in my PET Book would work within the newspaper form. All the texts mentioned show issues within different societies and different cultures, therefore working well alongside the newspaper, a “cultural object” (Raabe). They act as strong evidence for this “cultural object” – the work of poem and novel within newspapers gives fantastic narration to the current issues and observations within society. This can be seen today within newspapers or online magazines and the satirical poems or short pieces of text on politics, celebrities and the media.

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