chapter  2
39 Pages

The majority’s shout

WithBarbara Ryan

After lettered men tumbled, newspapers curried sales by making Ben-Hur a talking-point. An academic intervened a decade after the tumble. William P. Trent thought lettered men were weak because they had failed to manage the pleased crowd. By lambasting Ben-Hur and its fans, he attacked the lettered men indirectly. My discussion of Trent’s interventions, both sides of 1900, has a literary aspect, a civic aspect, and a religious aspect. This chapter explores a “methods” innovation: how to recover take-ups of Ben-Hur from long ago by learning from scraps of commentary.