Nineteenth-century reviews of novels often included a complete plot summary, along with lengthy quotations from the novel to give a sense of the author’s style. In many respects, these narratives functioned as a form of short fiction–a true “novel in a nutshell.” Numerous readers would have first encountered more lengthy narratives in this shortened form. For example, Gregory Vargo notes that the Northern Star, a Chartist paper, “reviewed and republished portions of” novels by Charles Dickens and Benjamin Disraeli, among other authors. He concludes that “[a]s the Star boasted a circulation around 10,000 and a readership several times that, a significant portion of the books’ audiences read them in this fragmentary form.”1Gregory Vargo, An Underground History of Early Victorian Fiction: Chartism, RAdical Print Culture, and the Social Problem Novel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
Though some book reviewers overtly explained their purpose within the text, others merely summarized and excerpted the novel under review. A reader would need to recognize the brief narrative as a review by looking at its heading, which would typically include the novel’s title and author, often along with publication and purchase information.
|↑1||Gregory Vargo, An Underground History of Early Victorian Fiction: Chartism, RAdical Print Culture, and the Social Problem Novel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.|