King of the Winds; or, The Quaker's Horse (Series of Prize Novels)
This 25-cent "Prize Novels" anthology by Dick & Fitzgerald contains The King of the Winds; or, The Quaker's Horse by well-known French novelist Eugène Sue (1804-1857) as well as three other short works by the same author: Kernok the Corsair, Boatswain Ulrik's Cap, and Passages in Adventures of a Young Rover. The exact publication date is unknown, but it was probably around the mid-19th century.
The volume also contains a complete mail-order catalogue detailing the wide variety of novels, how-to guides, and self-improvement books offered by Dick & Fitzgerald (Scroll down to read the full catalogue). The colorfully-worded promotional material shows how mass-market publishers at the time were reimagining books and novels as distinctly American commodities where page count and sensationalism were unabashedly prioritized over the quality of the prose. "This genuine and really practical American cook book is worth a thousand of the foreign republications which are issued from the press in this country," insists one advert. The blurb for a novel reads, "It is not one of the plentiful namby-pambyeisms of the day ... It is a novel in which old and young can find an abundance of unalloyed pleasure." Another adventure story is touted as "one of the most absorbing, exciting and delightful plots that ever emanated from the brain of the practiced romanist." The price and precise number of pages follows each description.
Mass market adventure novels promised to "thrill," "startle," and above all "excite" their readers. Later critics of dime novels would use this same promotional language against them, condemning the dangers of "nervous excitement" especially in adolescent boys.
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