Monday, March 10, 2014

"Detective Stories Are Shouted For"

You might think that people involved in the horror and violence of war, in this instance World War I, would want to read about things much less stressful and disturbing, but you'd be wrong. A few excerpts:
NO ARMIES EVER READ like the armies of to-day, because no armies could read as they can read. It does not need the Evening Post writer to tell us that the reason for this fact is the trench warfare which gives the fighting men a good deal of idle time. So the books actually called for, as the nations long at war have found out, match in variety even the flotsam and jetsam that came at call from garrets and storehouses, to the relief of housekeepers. Almost at the beginning of the war an English committee began supplying books to its soldiers, and The Library Journal of the New York Public Library has issued a pamphlet to tabulate from experience the kind of books soldiers like to read.
. . . The lesson of experience is that no hard and fast rule for soldiers' reading can be laid down: "Boswell and Pepys, Nick Carter, detective stories, the Bible, Nat Gould, Wordsworth's 'Prelude,' 'Famous Boxers,' the Koran, Miss Austen, Mark Twain, Marie Corelli, Macaulay, London Opinion, and the Round Table go side by side. And this not by any chance arrangement, but in response to exprest preferences from the front."
If one insists that there must be some one sort of books that soldiers like better than they like others the answer is, "Detective stories are shouted for." — "What the Soldier Reads," THE LITERARY DIGEST (November 10, 1917)

- ONTOS has already dealt with the preferred reading of businessmen HERE.

Category: Detective fiction

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