Skazka (supercrook) wrote in little_details,

"quality trash" in the 19th century

Setting: 19th century France, roughly placed in the 1840's, though the character in question's hometown is in Styria.

I've got a character (spoiled, male, aristocratic) who has a lot of time to kill, and somewhat romantic sensibilities in literature. Basically, if you pointed him in the direction of a big pile of books, he'd make a beeline for the trashiest, most sensational, and most exotic. His tastes also tend to run towards more I'd have a vague idea of what to explore for his personal library if he were English and living later in the century, but he's reading German as a first language.

1.) What would he be reading? Titles, authors, countries of origin... I can't imagine him getting his hands on anything in English, but correct me if I'm wrong. He's familiar with Latin, French and maybe Greek (probably the last two with the aid of a dictionary, if such things were at all "period") but my primary concern would be... how the heck would he get them? Some of what he's into is probably from the family library anyway (hence why some more "dated" stuff might be helpful, as his father seems to have gone through a similar phase at one point) and the cost/process of getting them wouldn't be the prohibitive part, but he doesn't live in an area where he could just waltz down the street to the local bookstore. Moral content isn't a particularly big issue.
2.) Less of a major question-- His father (not an especially strict man, but serious and no-nonsense) is annoyed with how his son's wasting his time, and the two are corresponding back and forth (with the appropriate time delay) by mail. If the subject of what Character A reads comes up in an argument, what's his father likely to call them? (I'm hoping for something that's not specifically a moralistic term but something akin to my mother calling my copy of Watchmen a "comic book" in that particular tone of voice parents seem to be good at. Implying that it's childish and a waste of time.)

I've been through the relevant posts here on little_details, checked out the VictorianWeb (which is naturally more of use for a setting in England or America). For some reason I also sat up reading The Pearl one weekend on Easter break (what can I say? It was diverting... if not in the way the writers had intended) but I'm thinking less pornographic and more racy, lightweight by the standards of the time and somewhat  very trashy. I can't imagine this character reading out-and-out porn for anything more than the "hoohoohoo! doing something forbidden!" factor, as he's a bit of a romantic, as well as more interested in men than women.
Even hints about what to Google would help. My Google-fail is only continuing.

ETA: Yay! All the responses I've been getting have been great, and I think I've got some  good stuff to go on now. Thank you. 
Tags: 1840-1849, europe: history, ~literature

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