This paper explores how marginalist economics defines and inevitably constrains Victorian sensation fiction's content and composition. I argue that economic intuition implies that sensationalist heroes and antagonists, writers and readers all pursued a fundamental, "rational" aim: the attainment of pleasure. So although "sensationalism" took on connotations of moral impropriety in the Victorian age, sensation fiction primarily involves experiences of pain on the page that excite the reader's pleasure. As such, sensationalism as a whole can be seen as a conformist product, one which mirrors the effects of all commodities on the market, rather than as a rebellious one. Indeed, contrary to modern and contemporary critics' assumptions, sensation fiction may not be as scandalous as it seems.
- Writing at the Margin: Economics and the Victorian Sensation Novel
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