n English in Africa - The good in a little fiction : Conrad, consumer readers, and commodity culture

Volume 35, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



Books are not texts. This simple proposition has social implications. While institutionalised methods of critical interpretation are excellent at generating meanings from unified texts, they are inadequate for dealing with either the transmission of books or their social significance. What do books mean for their audiences, for the people whom the language of economics calls 'endusers'? And, although sometimes awkwardly and indirectly expressed, readers' comments, like those quoted above, deserve to be taken seriously, at least by any sociology of literary works. Some recent reactions by readers to can be found in the three hundred and seventy or so online customer reviews available on the Amazon retail website. The depth of these reactions may not equal that of the novella's critical reception, but they are more than a match in their breadth.

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