David Smith


In recent years a great deal of research has been devoted to issues of "readership," especially to the question "who read what?" A related subject has been the popularity of individual works, notably in their own century, but also up to the present day. Tastes change over the years: a bestseller may finish in the literary graveyard, while a "sleeper" may achieve immortality. The factors affecting a work's fortunes are complex and their analysis requires the skills of the historian and the sociologist as well as the literary scholar. No attempt will be made to investigate them here, but I shall list some of them en guise de conclusion.