The latest eBook released to Project Gutenberg by the Distributed Proofreaders project using images from our Digital Library is another dime novel from the Bound-to-Win Library: Little Hickory; or, Ragged Rob’s Young Republic, a “success story” in the mold of Horatio Alger, Jr.
Written by George Waldo Browne using his “Victor St. Clair” pseudonym, the book tells the story of “Ragged Rob,” a young New York bootblack who helps to save Elihu Cornhill, a naive visitor to the city, from scammers and thieves. In gratitude (and because he is horrified by urban living conditions), Cornhill decides to take Rob (plus his family and friends) back to the country to start a new life, but their reception is not quite what he had expected.
This book describes social problems like economic inequity and prejudice in a more detailed and realistic way than many of its contemporaries, but being a dime novel, it ultimately doesn’t try to address them in any serious way, resolving itself through expected genre conventions rather than any attempt at realism. Still, like other popular fiction of its time, it provides a time capsule of social attitudes (not to mention slang).
If you would like to try this one for yourself, you can read it online or download it in popular eBook formats for free through Project Gutenberg.
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