Reviled by critics but loved by the readers, the bestseller has until recently provoked little serious critical interest. In The Myth of Superwoman, originally published in 1990, Resa Dudovitz looks at this international phenomenon, particularly at the origins of the bestseller system in the United States and France. Her cross-cultural study, including interviews with publishers, literary agents, and bestselling authors, gives a lively picture of the contrasting ways in which the bestseller is produced, marketed, and received in two countries. It pays special attention to the ‘international bestsellers’ of the 1980s, to writers like Judith Krantz, Colleen McCullough, and Barbara Taylor Bradford, all of whose novels are published in the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy.
The book presents a general analysis of women’s bestsellers, ranging over a wide variety of novels, from popular nineteenth-century texts in France and the United States to the novels of today. Dudovitz shows how women’s bestselling fiction has, over the last two hundred years, kept pace with the social evolution of contemporary women, culminating in the myth of superwoman in women’s bestsellers of the 1980s.
This fascinating account of an important aspect of popular culture will be of great value to students of women’s studies and cultural studies, especially those interested in the myths which structure women’s bestselling fiction.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements. Introduction. 1. Definitions of the Bestseller 2. The Institutional and Cultural Network of the Bestseller System 3. The Sentimental Novel: A History of Popular Women Writers in the United States and France 4. The Boundary Between the Romance and the Bestseller: Harlequins, Historical Novels, and Family Sagas 5. The Dilemma of Marriage 6. Superwoman: The "New Woman" of the 1980s. Conclusion. Bibliography. Index.
Resa L. Dudovitz