18thc Health Scare: Novels bad for your health!
A writer in The Gazette Salutaire complained in 1768, ‘perhaps of all cases that have harmed women’s health, the principal one has been the unfortunate multiplication of novels in the last hundred years’.
Nothing to do with poor sanitation, no free health care, poverty and disease, then. In all seriousness there was real concern over the perceived dangers for women in novel reading. See my lecture on the Eighteenth-Century Woman of Feeling for more on women and the eighteenth-century novel – and some men. 🙂