Penny radicalism?
Sweeney Todd and the bloods
in The penny politics of Victorian popular fiction
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Chapter 3 reads penny bloods as intimating and even endorsing strains of political radicalism, if casually and sporadically. Focusing on a reading of Sweeney Todd (1846–47) that brings out its criticism of the relations of production, relations between employers and employees that get reproduced in social relations, the chapter demonstrates the use of radical tenets and tropes in the bloods so as to increase its share of a perceived market of poor and disenfranchised readers with active political imaginations. Radicalism is understood as part and parcel of the entertainment. The chapter also examines the image of the crowd in a number of other penny bloods, including Varney the Vampire and Ada, the Betrayed. Finally, the chapter looks at questions of authorship and audience in Edward Lloyd’s cheap periodicals.

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