Quantitative Analysis of American Reviews, 1850-1859
Using Proquest's American Periodicals database as its primary resource pool, this spreadsheet lists 103 reviews of The Wide, Wide World, published in various American periodicals from 1850-1859, and then encodes the reviews by type and stance (see below for coding subjects). There were five dedicated reviews of the novel in its first year of publication. In 1852, 1853, and 1854, there were three substantive discussions of The Wide, Wide World within the larger literary field. The tallies show that the preponderance of reviewers (50%) received the novel favorably. Mixed and neutal reviews (42%) were typically complimentary of some aspects; e.g., see reviews from The Literary World, The Dollar Magazine, and The North American Review. The data indicates that the book quickly became a comparative touchstone for other literary productions.
See Selected American Reviews for transcriptions of eight significant reviews (highlighted in purple on the spreadsheet). Operations are underway to add a column with descriptions of the other 95 brief reviews. Two reviews are not tabulated due to corrupt or missing scans. Currently, this data set and its analysis are works in progress.
Type of Review
The first series of columns breaks down the reviews into the following categories:
- Dedicated Review [DR] = full-length review that offers a paragraph or more about WWW
- Brief Review [BR] = brief review that offers few sentences about WWW
- Warner Comparison [WC] = brief review of other work(s) by Susan or Anna Warner with WWW as a comparative measure
- Literary Field [LF] = review that mentions WWW or Warner in context of the broader literary field; e.g., comparisons with other novels/authors or discussions of publication/book buying
- Authorship/Celebrity [AC] = review or article that discusses Warner’s authorship, mentions Warner (or the Warner sisters) as celebrated author(s), or offers biographical information about Warner or the Warner sisters (typically brief references)
- Literary Reference [LR] = article, story, or serialized novel that refers to a character reading WWW
The second series of columns indicates the reviewer's stance on the novel:
- Positive Stance [PS] = generally positive assessment of WWW or Warner
- Mixed Stance [MS] = mixed assessment of WWW or Warner
- Negative Stance [NS] = generally negative assessment of WWW or Warner
- Neutral [NU] = no assessment of WWW or Warner