Cronin, A. J.: The Citadel
(researched by Perry Trolard)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

First American edition (September 1937):

    Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1937.
First British edition (July 1937):
    London: Gollancz, 1937.
First Canadian edition:
    Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1937.

Copyright 1937 by A.J. Cronin.
Sources used: examination of the American first by Little, Brown that I have in-hand, and for the foreign firsts: WorldCat online catalog.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

The Little, Brown first was published in trade cloth (in both orange and green, at the least).

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

203 leaves, pp. [4] [1-3] 4-99 [100-101] 102-210 [211] 212-227 [228-229] 230-401 [1]

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

Neither edited nor introduced. Aside from title pages, the novel is the only text.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

No illustrations. On the title page the Little, Brown insignia occupies the center: this is the only typographical embellishment.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

Page size: 20cm x 13cm; text size on page: 16.6cm x 10.2cm. Text size: 91R.
Readability is average for this sort of book (a trade novel). That the text runs close to the inside margin is the only remarkable feature (this, of course, detracts from readability).
This is a very plain typographical text. The novel is divided into four books: these always start on the recto side of the leaf and say "BOOK I" (and so on) on the top of the page. Each book is divided into roman-numeral numbered sections: after the roman numeral, the initial word of a section is printed in small caps (the first letter is in full caps).
The typeface is a Garamond (perhaps Garamond Book), which is a serif font.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The paper seems to be an average quality acid paper, wove, white and smooth, with all straight edges. By now, 2006, the paper is showing signs of acid deterioration: it has yellowed and is brittle and shows some foxing. Many corners have broken off or are stuck folded.

11 Description of binding(s)

The cover is an orange or green cloth (I have one copy of each), with the title and author as well as a caduceus printed on the front. Inside, the endpapers are olive and they include an extra sheet tipped in, in both front and back (so, upon opening the book, there are two, instead of the more customary one, free endsheets).
Transcription of the front cover:

    The CITADEL | [caduceus] | A. J. CRONIN
Transcription of the spine:
    The | Citadel | [interwoven horizontal line] | CRONIN
There are no dustjackets on the copies I have access to, though I found a photo of an original one. Please see supplementary materials section to view it.

12 Transcription of title page

Recto of title page:


[Little, Brown's insignia]


Verso of title page:


Published September 1937
Reprinted September 1937 (five times)
Reprinted October 1937 (three times)
Reprinted November 1937 (four times)
Reprinted December 1937 (three times)
Reprinted January 1938 (twice)
Reprinted February 1938 (four times)
Reprinted March 1938
Reprinted April 1938
Reprinted June 1938
Reprinted July 1938
Reprinted August 1938
Reprinted October 1938


13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings


15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

17th printing published in Britian by Victor Gollancz in 1939.

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

Other editions of The Citadel by Little, Brown, and Company (Boston):

    Book Club edition. 1937. 342p.; 22cm.

    The Citadel and The Keys to the Kingdom. 1941, c1937. 508p.; 21cm. This two-in-one volume, published in 1941, came out in a book club edition as late as 1960 (according to a bookseller on the Advanced Book Exchange, March 2006).

    1965. 368p.; 20cm. Says: "Originally published in 1937." Probably same text in paperback, though Cronin renewed the copyright in this year. (I don't know if this implies a change in the text.) Nowhere does it say "second edition."

    1983, c1965. Published under the imprint Back Bay Books. This is definitely a paperback printing, to coincide with the Mobil Masterpiece Theatre production of the book, run on PBS. Bottom cover reads: "Now a Mobil Masterpiece Theatre Presentation."

Sources used: WorldCat, National Union Catalog Pre-1956 Imprints,, Advanced Book Exchange

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

In the US, there were at least 28 printings by October 1938 (reports verso of title page of the copy I have in-hand). As for numbers of copies printed, a December 1937 ad boasts 148,000 copies printed, while Publisher's Weekly from June 1938 reports that the 25th edition made a total of 261,000 copies; but based on sales figures (from Publisher's Weekly) at least 460,000 copies must have been printed by January 1939 (see sales block below).

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

There are many. We'll start with those in the US:

    New York: Grosset & Dunlap. 401p.; 21cm. Published in 1937 and 1940?. This edition was put on sale late in 1938 for $1.39 (Little, Brown's was $2.50) to boost sales. (Thus for a few months this edition appeared in the Little, Brown edition's stead on the bestseller lists.) Grosset & Dunlap also published the The Citadel and The Keys to the Kingdom dual book in 1959. 508p.; 21cm. Garden City: International Collectors Library, 1937. 342p.; 22cm. New York: Editions for the Armed Services, 1937 and 1945. 446p.; 11x17cm. New York: P.F. Collier, 1937. 401p.; 21cm. A school edition from Globe, ed. by Frederick Houk Law. New York: Globe Book Co., 1953. 552p.: illus.; 20 cm. New York, Bantam Books published many over the years: 1951 (412p.; 16cm), 1956 (310p.; 18cm), 1962 (310p.; 18cm), 1965 (310p.; 18cm), 1967 (310p.; 18cm), 1971 (403p.; 18cm). Reader's digest condensed books (volume 3, 1982). Pleasantville, New York: Reader's Digest Association, 1982. 573p.: ill.; 20cm. Includes: The Man from St Petersburg by ken Follett, Pioneer Women: voices from the Kansas frontier by Joanna L. Stratton, No Escape by Joseph Hayes, The Citadel by A.J. Cronin.
Those from the UK:
    Victor Gollancz, in London, the original publisher, put out many: 1939, 1948 (paperback? 294p.; 19cm), 1954 (293 p.: first from new plates), 1956 (293p. edition again), 1961?. Gollancz also published The Cronin Omnibus in 1958, 1994 (1008p.). Large print edition. Anstey, Leicestershire: F.A. Thorpe, 1981. 591p.; 23cm. "First published July 1937." Large print edition. Leicester: Charnwood, 1981. 591p.; 23cm. Charnwood library series. Norman Wymer, A.J. Cronin. London: Longman, 1963, 1973, 1993. 133p.: ill.; 19cm. Longman simplified English series. In 1996, a second edition was published by Addison Wesley Longman ELT. (Sometimes Longman's books are given as out of Harlow, sometimes out of London, even for same year.) London: New English Library, 1983. 380p.; 18cm. "Originally published, London: Gollancz, 1937." London: Vista, 1996. 380p.; 18cm. Paperback. Norman Wymer, A.J. Cronin. Harlow: Pearson Education, 1999. 128p.; 20cm. Simplified edition.
From Amsterdam:
    P.H. Breitenstein, A.J. Cronin. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff Educatief, 1965. 143p.; 17 cm. + vocabulary (16 p.). Must be simplified edition.
Sources: WorldCat, National Union Catalog.

6 Last date in print?

As of March 2006, Bowker's Books In Print has the book in print. One is in library binding from Yestermorrow, Inc. (pub. 1998), another is in cloth from Little, Brown, and Co. (pub. 1983), and the last is an on-demand paperback from Little, Brown, and Co. (of the 1983 version).

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

For the 16 months that it was on the bestseller lists in the US (September 1937 through December 1938), Little, Brown's sales totaled 461,108 (see yearly figures below). In Britain, counting only the period from July to November of 1937, sales were 150,000. I could find no more figures, but given its many translations and 70 years in print, it seems safe to say total sales are in the several millions.

Source: Publisher's Weekly from 20 November 1937 & 21 January 1939.

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

Publisher's Weekly reports US sales for 1937 as 161,108 and for 1938 as 300,000 (this is only for the Little, Brown edition, which sold at $2.50, and not the Grosset & Dunlap special price edition, which sold from October 1938 at $1.39).

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

Little, Brown developed this tagline: "The novel about DOCTORS." The novel is referred to as "Dr. Cronin's The Citadel." This ad (October 1937) touted its high sales (notice the ad's referring to "the publishers" in the third person, and its dramatic syllogistic logic):

    This novel was published on September 10th, and in advertising it immediately afterwards the publishers made the statement that it was breaking all Little, Brown & Company records since the publication of "All Quiet on the Western Front" in 1929. Now, a month after publication, this claim is still backed by figures: the bookstore sale of "The Citadel" in the United States is 20% larger than the bookstore sale of "All Quiet" during its first month. "All Quiet on the Western Front" had a larger sale in its year of publication than any book ever published by Little, Brown & Company. Three printings of 10,000 copies each of "The Citadel" have been ordered since October 1st bringing the total, one month after publication, to
      105,000 COPIES
Most contemporary ads focused on its commercial success; descriptions of the novel itself came from review excerpts (these from a late September 1937 ad): "Such a story of a physician and of the medical profession as has heretofore rarely, if ever, been written" (Boston Transcript) and "By far A.J. Cronin's best book, both for the social significance . . . and for the fascinating story he tells" (St. Louis Globe-Democrat). An ad publicizing the re-issue in 1983 to coincide with the PBS series called the novel "his classic" and described it thus:
    Hailed when it first appeared as a "smashing popular triumph" (The New Yorker), THE CITADEL tells the story of Andrew Manson, the young doctor whose talent takes him from the poverty-stricken mining valleys of Wales to the wealth and prestige of a private practice in London--and the danger of losing everything he believed in. One of the most enthralling and highly acclaimed bestsellers by the world-famous author of The Keys of the Kingdom and Shannon's Way, THE CITADEL continues its triumph, not only with viewers of the PBS television series, but also with readers of this newly-reissued edition of A.J. Cronin's most powerful storytelling achievement.
    At bookstores now, paperback $6.95, cloth $16.95
Source: ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

In November of 1937, Publisher's Weekly reports that Little, Brown put up subway posters promoting the novel. Cronin himself also visited New York for a week in mid-November to speak at the New York Times National Book Fair (before he went to Hollywood to meet with MGM).

Source: The New York Times, Nov 16, 1937 (through ProQuest Historical Newspapers).

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A


    The Citadel. MGM's UK-filmed adaptation, directed by King Vidor, starring Robert Donat, Rosalind Russell, and Rex Harrison. 1938. 16mm; black and white; 112 minutes (3 reels). Distributed in the US by MGM. [I found a review of the film in a Florida newspaper in December 1937.]
    The Citadel. Loew's Inc. and MGM/UA Home Video released a video version of the 1938 film, 1987. VHS and Beta; 114 minutes.
Sound Recording:
    The Citadel. Radio dramatization from the 1940s. (Bibliographic record: Walter Pidgeon. Ft. Orange, N.J.: Ft. Orange Radio Distributing Company, 1940-49?. 25 minutes. "Scences from the play recorded as a radio drama in the 1940's.") The Citadel. Sydney: Artransa. 20th century. 33 1/3 analog record. Appears to be an installment (episode 52) of an audio drama.
    BBC series. [No further info known.]
    ABC. Aired 19 February 1960. Adaptation by Dale Wasserman, directed by Paul Bogart, starring James Donald. 90 minutes. BBC series. 1982. 10-part miniseries. PBS. 1983. Mobil Masterpiece Theatre presentation (re-airing of BBC production).
Sources: WorldCat, Internet Movie Database,

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

It's been translated into 24 languages, listed here alphabetically according to language. If an entry has mulitiple dates of publication, these denote dates of copies reported in WorldCat and the National Union Catalog (and are probably dates of printing, not dates for distinct editions). If a copy with a later date has a different extent (number of pages, size), this will be noted after the original entry.

    ARMENIAN Mijnaberd. Erevan: "Sovetakan grogh", 1979. 491p.; 21cm. Translated by Albert Khach`atryane. CHINESE Cheng Bao. Shanghai: Shanghai yi wen chu ban she, 1984. 509p.; 20cm. tr. Wan Zhu. CZECH Ocistec. Praha: Europský literární klub, 1938. 384p.; 19cm. Translated by Vladimir Vendys. Citadela. Praha: Svoboda, 1969. 446p.; 20cm. Translated by Vendys. DANISH Borgen. [København]: Gyldendals Paperbacks, 1983. Translated by Peter Christiansen. DUTCH Original Dutch edition reported in another entry as: "Oorspr. Nederlandse uitg.: Leiden: Sijthoff, 1937." De Citadel. Ed: Speciale, goedkoepe uitg. Amsterdam: Contact, 1947. De Citadel. Leiden: Sijthoff, 1953, 1957. 384p.; 19cm. Translated by J.N.C. van Dietsch. De Citadel. Utrecht: Luitingh, 1983. 368p.; 20cm. 1984 with 375p.; 23cm. Translated by van Dietsch. De Citadel. Laren: Luitingh, 1978. 368p.; 23cm. Translated by van Dietsch. FINNISH Sisärengas: romaani. Helsinki: Otava, 1939, 1947, 1960. 407p.; octavo. 9th edition? in 1984 with 445p.; 22cm. Translated by Helvi Vasara. FRENCH La citadelle: roman traduit de l'anglais par Maurice Rémon. Paris: Albin Michel, 1938. 452p.; 19cm Also in 1991: 485 p. 21cm. La citadelle. Paris: Librairie Générale Française, 1985. 512p.; 17cm. Republication of 1938 Albin Michel edition. GERMAN Die zitadelle, roman von A.J. Cronin. Berlin: P. Zsolnay, 1938. 483p.; 21cm. 1948 with 494p. 1950 with 469p. 1957 with 423p. Translated by Richard Hoffmann. Die Zitadelle: roman. Hamburg: Zsolnay, c1938, 1957. 423p.; 21cm. Hoffmann translation. Die Zitadelle: roman. Zürich: Artemis-Verlag, 1947, [c1938]. 423p.; 22cm. Translated by Wilhelm Ritter. Die Zitadelle. Hamburg: Rowohlt, [1951]. 409p.; 19cm. 1953: 409p.; 26cm. Hoffmann's translation. Die Zitadelle: roman. Berlin: Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, 1958, c1938. 400p.; 20cm. Hoffmann translation. Die Zitadelle: roman. Olten: Fackelverlag, 1965. 510p.; 20cm. Hoffmann translation. Die Zitadelle: roman. Gütersloh: Im Bertelsmann Lesering, 1970s, 1992. 473p.; 20cm. Der Zitadelle. Zürich: Büchergilde Gutenberg, before 1985?. 423p.; 22cm. Same house published one in Frankfurt am Main, 1953. 403p.; 21cm. Wilhelm Ritter's translation. Die Zitadelle: roman. München: W. Heyne, 1982. 447p.; 18cm. Hoffmann. Die Zitadelle. Köln: Naumann & Göbel, 1988. 412p.; 21cm. Hoffmann. Die Zitadelle. Frankfurt: Fischer, 1992. Hoffmann. GREEK To Kastro: muthistorema. Athens: Darema, before 1999. 411p.; 24cm. Translated by Polubiou Ioannde. GUJARATI (India) Chhanna dev kapashiyani ankho. Ahmedabad: Harsh, 1996. Translated by Pratima Modi. HUNGARIAN Réztábla a kapu alatt: regény. Budapest: Árkádia, 1987. 557p.; 20cm. Translated by Szinnai Tivadar. ICELANDIC Hér skeður aldrei neitt. Akureyri: Bókaútgáfan Norðri, 1935. 116p.; 22cm. This publication date must be wrong (first publication was London: Gollancz, July 1937). ITALIAN La Cittadella. Milan: Bompiani, 1962, 1991. 377p.; 20cm. JAPANESE Josai.Tokyo: Shinchosha, 1955. 316p.; 16cm. Another in 1958 with 381p.; 20cm. Josai. Tokyo: Mikasashobo, 1940. 252p. 1950: 249p. 1952: 227p. All 19cm, translated by Yoshimi Nakamura. 1958: 2v.; 19cm. 1967, 1975: 394p.; 19cm. Last three translated by Michinosuke Takeuchi. KOREAN Songch`ae. Soul: Song Paoro Ch`ulp`ansa, 1973. 411p.; 19cm. Another edition in the same year with 416p.; 23cm. Translated by Hye-yong Ku. Songch`ae. Soul T`ukyoisi: Chisong Munhwasa, 1980. 429p.: ill.; 23cm. Translated by Sang-gil Yi. LATVIAN Citadele. Ar autora atlauju no anglu valodas tulkojis E. Vilans. Copenhagen: Imanta, 1951. 370p. PERSIAN Dizh. [S.I.]: Intisharat-i Razi, 1985. 392p.; 24cm. Translated by Faraydun Majlisi. POLISH Cytadela: powiesc. Warszawa: Wydawn. J. Przeworskiego, 1948. 439p.; 22cm. Cytadela. Warszawa: Pax, 1954. 335p.; 21cm. Another in 1997 with 387p. Translated by Józef Szpecht. PORTUGUESE A cidadella (o romance de um medico) Rio de Janeiro: J. Olympio, 1939, 1955. 405p.;23cm. Prefaced and trans. by Genolino Amado. RUSSIAN Citadel. Kiev: [?]. 1955. 395p. TSitadel': roman. Nizhnii Novgorod: RITS "Nizhegorodskie novosti": ZAO "Nizhegorodskie novosti ilius": Volgo-Viatskoe knizhnoe izd-vo, 1996. 334p.; 21cm. Translated by M.E. Abkina. SLOVAK Citadela. Btatislava: Smena, 1965, 1972. 457p.; 21cm. SPANISH La cuidadela. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Letras, 1938. 450p.; 19cm. Translated by Armando González Rodríguez. La cuidadela. Esplugues de Llobregat (Barcelona): Plaza & Janés, c1957, 1978, 1984 (411p.), 1985, c1990, 1991. 446p.; 20cm. Enrique Pepe translation. La ciudadela. Barcelona: Ediciones G.P., c 1957, 1966, 1984. 446p.; 18cm. Translated by "Eurique Pepe" (read "Enrique"). La cuidadela. Barcelona: Plaza & Janés, c1957, 1985, 1990, 1995. 446p.; 18cm. Pepe. La ciudadela, el drama de los médicos y la medicina. México: Diana, 1957. 384p.; 20cm. Pepe. La ciudadela, el drama de los médicos y la medicina. Buenos Aires: Editorial Claridad, 1939. 414p.; 20cm. Pepe. La cuidadela. Barcelona: Ediciones Orbis, S.A., 1957. 350p.; 20cm. Pepe. TURKISH Sahika (Citadel). Istanbul: Ahmet Halit Kitabevi, 1943, 1945. 292p.; 21cm. Translated by Ömer Riza Dogrul. Sahika. [Istanbul]: Altin Kitaplar, 1968. 428p.; 21cm. Translated by Sönmez Ozanoglu. VIETNAMESE Ði tìm ngu'o'i yêu: tiêu thuyet. [Saigon?]: Thu' Tu' Tuan San, 1967, 1984, 1989. 301p.; 21cm. Adapted translation by Hoàng Hai Thuy. Reprint of this in the early 80's in the US.
Sources: WorldCat, National Union Catalog.

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

A.J. Cronin was a prolific writer of middlebrow fiction and a frequent magazine contributor who produced over 20 books (including an autobiography and one play). Six of these made the American bestseller lists and 10 supplied the stories for feature films. He boasted at least 22 worldwide publishers and his most popular works were translated into an impressively large number of world languages (as above, The Citadel appeared, among many others, in Persian, Icelandic, Gujarati, and Vietnamese). The Citadel, The Keys of the Kingdom, and Shannon's Way are perhaps his best-known works. Cronin was born Archibald Joseph on 19 July 1896 in Cardross, Dumbartonshire, Scotland to parents Patrick and Jessie. He attended Dumbarton Academy and Glasgow University until 1916, when he served two years in WWI with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a surgeon. Upon his return, he finished his M.B. and Ch.B. and graduated with honors in 1919. He continued his studies at Glasgow University Medical School where, in 1921, he married Agnes Mary Gibson, also a student; they eventually had three sons: Vincent Archibald Patrick, Robert Frances Patrick, and Andrew James. Cronin received his Ph.D. in 1923, joined the Royal College of Physicians in 1924, and in 1925 was given his M.D. with honors from Glasgow University (Dictionary of Literary Biography). Some time before finishing his professional training, Cronin began working as a physician in small mining towns in Wales and by 1924 he obtained a job with the Ministry of Mines as a medical inspector which he kept for four years. In 1925 he also opened a general practice in the West End of London (DLB). Experience gained in both of these locations proved to be autobiographical raw material for his later writing projects, The Citadel in particular: clearly he was left with a sense of indignation at the awful conditions in the mines and a sense of disgust at the price-gouging opportunism in the West End. In 1930 Cronin temporarily relocated to Inveraray, Scotland (home of a famous castle) to recover from gastric ulcers. This time off enabled him "to indulge a childhood wish to be a writer" and evidently he did so vigorously: three months later he had a first novel, Hatter's Castle, and his first publisher (DLB). Thus, at age 34, his highly productive literary career began (and his first publisher, Gollancz, remained with him until the end). Hatter's Castle, which dramatizes the ruin that befalls a man set on recapturing his imagined lost nobility, initiates a perennial theme in Cronin's oeuvre: the dangerous seduction of worldly status. Based on the success of this first novel, Cronin gave up medicine and entered writing full-time. Before Hatter's Castle Cronin had published medical works (A History of Aneurism and a survey of medical regulations in British mines), and now that he devoted himself to fiction he became prolific (Contemporary Authors Online). He followed the first novel, which was an immediate success, with another in 1932 (Three Loves, which was an American bestseller), another in 1933 (Grand Canary), and another in 1935 (The Stars Look Down). The first novels were melodramas and only by the last was he receiving some critical support along with his clear popular success. In 1937 Cronin seems to have hit his stride when he published what is the pinnacle of his writerly craft, The Citadel, and it bested all of his work yet, combining moral seriousness with better-drawn characters than he was previously capable of. (The DLB writes of this achievement that, finally, "critics agreed with the reading public.") The novel won the American Booksellers' Award and stayed on American bestseller lists from September 1937 to December 1938 (DLB, Publisher's Weekly) and was filmed by MGM in 1938. Highlights from his post-Citadel career include The Keys of the Kingdom (1941), about a missionary in China, The Green Years (1944) and its sequel Shannon's Way (1948), about a medical student who practices in a poverty-stricken neighborhood, and Beyond this Place (1953), all four which were American bestsellers. A Thing of Beauty (in Britain, The Crusader's Tomb), published in 1956, was a final artistic high point. From 1939-1955 he resided in New England and after this date moved permanently to Switzerland. He finished his career serializing stories in magazines and publishing (sometimes while protesting) collections of these as books. He died of bronchitis 06 January 1981 in Glion, Switzerland. Many of Cronin's manuscripts and letters are held in the National Library of Scotland.

Source: Dictionary of Literary Biography (almost the exclusive source of information), Contemporary Author's Online.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

The Dictionary of Literary Biography (cf. Assignment 3 above) states that in the case of The Citadel (unlike with some of Cronin's previous novels) the "critics agreed with the reading public." Based on the reviews recovered here, however, this is not unambiguously true: though almost all acknowledged their respect for the novel's earnestness, reviewers rarely gave the novel unqualified praise, and some were rather begrudging. Wilbur Needham's, in the Los Angeles Times, is the only glowing review. He calls the novel "great" and notes the book's drama, "emotional pull," its characters whom "you quickly get to know and cannot forget." He remarks that it contains almost no literary mistakes (unlike Cronin's previous The Stars Look Down) and it will succeed in rousing people to activism against the evils it describes. Needham likens Cronin to Dickens in his "engrossing" characters and keen concern for social problems. Finally, in a minority opinion, he writes that Cronin "can laugh, and draw caricatures, and tell a singing, human, lusty tale" [6]. Mary Barrett, in The Washington Post, lauds the book as "a straightforward, dramatic story simply told." But she recognizes Cronin's greatness not in his depiction of "personal and intimate human affairs," but in that of the "laboratory, the hospital, the impoverished sickroom, the fallen mine shaft--these make up his theater." She ends by excerpting such a scene [5]. Her concession that characters' lives--the personal--is not his strength, gets at a common complaint. Fanny Butcher in the Chicago Daily Tribune places the novel "on the top rung in [Cronin's] ladder of excellence" and finds the story gripping, even though Manson, the protagonist, is a "type" [2]. This qualified praise is typical: Ralph Thompson, in the New York Times, writes that Cronin "can tell a story; he always could. He does not bother to be original or clever or profound. The style is merely workmanlike, the development traditional, the structural devices frankly old-fashioned." Even though the book is not "great writing," it's pleasing because of its simplicity [1]. Writing in the New York Times, Alfred Kazin offers the most pointed complaints, even if he follows the general contours of the other reviews. Kazin writes that in Cronin's books, "the matter has been less imposing than the moral. The truth seems to be that Dr. Cronin has first-hand ideas and second-hand skill." Though earnest and morally serious, Cronin's books end up trivial, Kazin thinks, because of his notion of character: each is stereotyped either good or bad. Unlike Sinclair Lewis's Arrowsmith, which it resembles superficially, it has no "joy of life" in it, no "zest" of character (this is directly opposite to Needham's vision of a "singing, human, lusty tale"). Cronin's characters are "sad-faced participant[s] in an atonal drama." The Citadel's conflict, which culminates in Andrew's spiritual descent, strikes a false note because Cronin fashions his main character to be insufficiently complex: because he's essentially a good type, the reader always knows Andrew will return to virtue. Finally, Andrew's denouncing of British medicine, cause of much attention for the novel, is "a paragraph of rhetoric set against honest but ineffectual fiction" [4]. Thus like other reviewers, Kazin finds Cronin's characters too much like abstractions and in general his talent as a stylist wanting; the difference with Kazin is that he dwells disproportionately more on these faults than on Cronin's earnest intentions and social concern. On 5 December of 1937, an editorial in the Chicago Daily Tribune expresses confusion about why the book is a compelling argument for state medicine. Indeed, the writer thinks it's an argument against it, as the novel depicts the power of bureaucracy to lull a profession into lazy self-perpetuation. The writer adds that the number of doctors open to Cronin's charges is probably small [7]. 10 days later, the novelist Lloyd C. Douglas wrote a guest editorial complimenting the editorial on 5 December. He asks that the government not intervene in the medical profession, anticipating that political corruption would erode medial practice. He lauds doctors as the most devoted and selfless of civil servants, whose workload, when compared to "the activities of parsons, legislators, editorial writers, novelists, etc., would simply make a dog laugh" [8]. Later, post-1937 reception of the novel came mainly from minor laudatory mentions of the book in reviews of the MGM film (released in 1938). In 1939, the French journal Études Anglaises reviewed the book. The review mainly summarizes the story, but notes Cronin's continuing "reformist ardor" (previously evident in The Stars Look Down) and sees "the qualities of conscience, intelligence, sometimes heroism" in the book. It concludes: the "thesis is underscored in a lively and concrete manner, and the interest of this novel (which is without intrigue) is constant." Finally, the reviewer criticizes the French translation (by Maurice Rémon) as "awkwardly literal" and for being clueless about otherwise well known lexical "false friends" [9, my translation]. At the time of this summary, William Carlos Williams's review in The Nation was unavailable [3]. UPDATE: An annotation of Williams's review. His is the most idiosyncratic and is closest to Kazin in his estimate of Cronin's gifts as a writer. Calls the book "a crowded story clumsily but sincerely told, even passionately convincing at times." It's "a somewhat old-fashioned morality using the medical profession as its stage, a scathing criticism of the state of medicine in England today, of conditions no different from those prevalent elsewhere in the world . . . ." (Williams also quips: "The book ought to make good reading for the self-righteous, who will thereby forget what slippery blackguards they are themselves.") Says that the "principal interest" in the book in its depiction of English medicine and calls it "convincingly real." "In the main the medical part of the book is first-rate and will prove, I think, even to the general reader its chief attraction." Applauds Cronin as a doctor and at the same time rather backhandedly says that "as a writer [Cronin] wasn't up to" writing the book otherwise [read: better] than it was, but that, in any case, if he were it would have been a pity. Tells story about a wildly promiscuous doctor he knows of who could have written the book with "the proper salty touch lacking here." Contrary to the cover's legend, this is not a great novel; but it's a "good novel." Williams ends by saying what Cronin misses: "that, as Ezra Pound would say, it's money and its misappropriation and artificial scarcity that are at the back of our troubles, and that unless you see the thing through to its source you see nothing." Reviews:

  1. Thompson, Ralph. "Books of the Times." New York Times. 10 Sep 1937: 21.
  2. Butcher, Fanny. "Novelist Hero of New Novel by H.G. Wells." Chicago Daily Tribune. 11 Sep 1937: 12.
  3. Williams, William Carlos. "A Good Doctor's Story." The Nation. 145.11 (11 Sep 1937): 268.
  4. Kazin, Alfred. "Dr. Cronin's Novel About The Medical Profession." New York Times. 12 Sep 1937: BR6.
  5. Barrett, Mary. "'The Citadel.'" The Washington Post. 12 Sep 1937: B7.
  6. Needham, Wilbur. "Great New Novel Written by Cronin." Los Angeles Times. 12 Sep 1937: D8.
  7. "A Novel About Doctors." Chicago Daily Tribune. 5 Dec 1937: 16.
  8. Douglas, Lloyd C. "Voice of the People." Chicago Daily Tribune. 15 Dec 1937: 12.
  9. Saint-Martin, A. [untitled review] Études Anglaises. 3 (1939): 198-199.

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

There was limited subsequent reception of The Citadel. Four treatments came from the professional medical establishment [2, 4, 5, 6]. One, a book review from 2001 in the Student BMJ, affirms that its caution against careerism remains relevant some 60 years later. Two literary treatments were done: a Russian study on "the problem of the positive hero" from 1966 [1], and a paper in 1983 by British literary scholar Roger Bromley on the representation of class [3]. Bromley read the book as a popular melodrama that suggested a different picture of the 1930s than was currently common in the 1980s (this common way of seeing the '30s Bromley calls "populist individualism"). Cronin's literary career continued well though the 1970s, and in the reviews of his later books The Citadel was often mentioned. Reviewers frequently referred to it as one of his greatest works. Articles:

  1. Vaisman, N. I. "K probleme polozhitel'nogo geroya v tvorchestve A. Dzh. Kronina vtoroi poloviny 30-kh godov. Po romanu 'Tsitadel'." (The problem of the positive hero in the work of A. J. Cronin of the second half of the 30's. Based on 'The Citadel'.) Voprosy russkoi i zarubezhnoi literatury. Khabarovsk, 1966. 90-110.
  2. Wyman, A.L. "A Bad Conscience about Novels." BMJ: British Medical Journal. 2.6196 (20 Oct 1979): 989-90.
  3. Bromley, Roger. "The Boundaries of Hegemony: Components of the Middle Way." The Politics of Theory. Ed. Barker, Francis et al. Colchester: U of Essex, 1983. 153-166. (Thanks to Mr. Bromley for helpful personal correspondence and for generously providing a copy of his essay.)
  4. Phillips, C.I., and Jane Smith. "Medicine and the Media." BMJ: British Medical Journal. 286.6362 (29 Jan 1983): 386.
  5. Zafiropoulos, Andreas. "The Citadel." Student BMJ. August 2001: 301. [Link]
  6. Haugen, Christine. "The Citadel." JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association. 268.21 (2 Dec 1992): 3147.

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

Cronin's fifth novel was immediately successful in the United States. Even well before its publication on September 10th, 1937, buzz from England was making its way into American newspapers (this from the New York Times, 28 July):

According to cablegrams from London, A.J. Cronin's new novel, "The Citadel," is causing a flurry in London. Gollancz, the publisher, reports printings of 40,000 copies, an unusually large English edition. [...]
The Los Angeles Times echoed:
In England the book is already creating a sensation among the critics, who declare the new novel to be even better than "The Stars Look Down." (15 August)
A little closer to its American release date, on August 9th, the New York Times reported that Little, Brown had already printed 35,000 copies ? evidently an impressive (and therefore optimistic) number. But if these reports of unusually large printings and sensation among the critics don't come off as national news, or if they sound interesting only to the book chatter ghetto, a later piece revealed cause for the book's wider appeal. Four days before publication (6 September), the New York Times elaborated on what may have underwritten its success: scandal.
Press releases indicate that some excitement has been whipped up in England by the disclosures of medical practices in A.J. Cronin's novel, "The Citadel," now a London best seller, due to be published here by Little, Brown this week. Dr. Cronin implies that there is a great deal of racketeering in English medicine, and the president of the British Medical Association is quoted as saying that if the charge made in the book is not fantasy it is mud-slinging. It is best ignored because nothing can be done about it. The Sunday Referee comments, however, that Harley Street has not retaliated by banning Dr. Cronin. Not only have prominent specialists bought the book but last week copies were noted in ten of those discreet bookracks which patients are invited to explore in the waiting rooms, the paper says.
Interesting as Cronin's popularity in Harley Street is (to this day [2006], Harley Street is London's high-end medical district), and curious as the BMA president's response is, what I want to draw attention to here is the fact of the real-world ramifications the book immediately produced. Clearly Cronin's fictional account was taken as a direct comment on contemporary medical practice. Cronin's credentials and experience as a doctor were often invoked (as above: Dr. Cronin), establishing the book's relevance as an accurate picture; the existence and pressure of the charges were such that medical officials felt required to respond; and the book went on to provoke talk about the merits of nationalized medicine. Thus, though it wasn't only this, the novel was a message book. And while The Citadel, as a bestseller, fits into several categories in what would be a bestseller taxonomy, I claim that it is this particular feature of its history that makes it most distinctive. The fact that it had direct "social" application separates it most particularly from other types.

In saying that this feature ? its scandalousness, its tract-like effect, etc. ? is its most distinctive, I don't mean to say that this is what caused its fantastic success. I'll remain agnostic on this point: too many factors plausibly go into it. These other factors are naturally those that are common to bestsellers in general (inasmuch as there is such a baseline ? it's possible that there's room for special cases), but we should nevertheless go over them here.

Like almost all bestsellers, The Citadel benefitted from the normal, say, external methods of book industry promotion. Cronin was probably seen as an established and promising author, one who had landed one book on the bestseller lists (Three Loves, 1932) and who had had other hits besides. The Citadel was number five and any book he published would have gotten notices in the book columns. These began, as above, as early as late July, 1937. Also, the staggered publishing schedule (first in Britain, then the US) worked to the book's favor (also as above): it must have given Little, Brown the chance to gauge interest and modify their printing numbers accordingly. Publicity-wise, this staggered schedule only works to publishers' benefit, however, if the book is successful; Cronin's was, as the "cablegrams" made evident.

Much later in the book's life on the bestsellers list, very near the end, two more external factors came into play. The first is that ? to compensate for flagging sales, one presumes ? Little, Brown allowed a bargain edition of the book to go on the market. This hardcover edition was printed by Grosset & Dunlap (a house who did much of this kind of shadow printing) and sold for $1.39, compared to the $2.50 for Little, Brown's hardcover. Publisher's Weekly reports that it went on sale in October of 1938; the novel went off the bestseller list in January 1939. The other factor that played a part in raising its profile was that the book was adapted into a film. MGM released it on November 3rd, 1938 (IMDB), and the curious thing is that the film didn't extend the book's bestseller life even more. It is a common occurrence these days that a "classic" novel which has received a new filmic treatment gets put out in a new tie-in edition; and, in Spring 2006, it seems likely that a recent blockbuster like The Da Vinci Code's sales will be boosted by a movie release. But perhaps it was because of just how quick the turnaround was (the film was released about thirteen months after the book was) that no longer effect was produced. It's also possible that the film version did increase interest for the book, but mainly in its pre-release capacity; after all, as early as November 1937 (one year before release) there was word of Cronin's speaking with MGM.

But bestsellers aren't made on promotion, discounts, and film adaptations alone. (Publishers then and publishers now haven't figured out how to completely engineer the market.) And, indeed, all of these factors seem overshadowed by the scandal effect. But there are different kinds of scandal. What kind did Cronin generate? First, it was not a scandal of taste. The Citadel didn't "push the envelope" of what could be portrayed or made explicit in subject or in detail like sexual-revolution bestsellers in the 1960s (see Myra Breckinridge or Portnoy's Complaint in this database). Nor was it a religious scandal like books such as Elmer Gantry or The Satanic Verses. These sorts of scandal offend someone's sense of propriety in what they dare to depict ? the books themselves offend. The Citadel is different in that what gets it attention is its claim about something in the world: the state of the medical profession. And the question of the legitimacy of this claim generates scandal (Can it really be that bad?). Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906) seems to fall in this category as well, and they share the exposé-style accusation of corruption in an industry.

This feature of the book is what provokes this kind of (unsympathetic) response (originally from the Daily Express in London, reprinted in September 1937 in The Living Age):

Come, come, Dr. Cronin! Since your book is about disingenuousness in the noblest profession, why permit yourself to be disingenuous? Why preface your novel with the note about every character, place, and institution in your book being entirely fictitious? Characters, yes; places and institutions, no.

Your attack on Harley Street is the most vigorous demolition of anything since Dickens. [...]

And this is how Cronin responds (in the same The Living Age reprint from the Daily Express): after saying how his sympathy for struggling doctors evident in the three quarters of the book not dealing with Harley Street is ignored in the press account, he reaffirms his accuracy, and then expands his criticisms.

But I can say that everything in The Citadel is factual, the result of fifteen years spent inside the profession. And if you hold it to be 'nonsense,' I must disagree with you.

I honestly believe our medical system to be as dead as a doornail, as the dodo, as a play Mr. Agate [the reviewer quoted above] has French-quoted to its doom. But what am I up against? That inestimable British virtue?inertia.

Agate's charge and Cronin's defense again underscore the prominence given to its critique of something in the world. The reviewer (James Agate) criticizes Cronin essentially for hiding behind his fiction, but no one else seems to have gotten hung up on Cronin's disclaimer: they read his book as a basically unambiguous denouncement of uptown medical opportunism, exploiting the fears of wealthy hypochondriacs. So though the book is no doubt a novel (as, in an unquoted section, Cronin reminds Agate), many of the ways it's talked about treat it like it might as well be a tract. It's the polemical content that counts. Early in its advertising campaign, Little, Brown's chosen angle supports this. In an ad from September 20th, the two biggest words, in bold print, are: DR. CRONIN'S and DOCTORS (see ad here). The first starts the phrase Dr. Cronin's The Citadel and the second ends the phrase The novel about Doctors. Thus Cronin's authority and claim to expertise in the field are essential qualities that the publisher wanted communicated. And these are, of course, extra-literary qualities. I must confess to being a little dumbfounded at the tagline The novel about Doctors; it struck me that if one is going to advertise a novel by what it's about, it should be about something more compelling than simply one of the professions (The novel about Bankers?). But what this suggests is either that medicine was especially topical at the time or that Cronin's book was unique in its treating doctors (the novel...). Or perhaps a third possibility: The Citadel had such publicity already (as something like that book about doctors) that it only needed to be tied back to this particular book: Know that book about doctors you've been hearing about? This is it. But it's hard to say; the point is that in any case it was the book's status as a directly referential document that identified it to the public.

If, at the popular level, it's safe to say that book critics are likely to be those most concerned with the particularly literary qualities of the book, reviews of The Citadel are striking because they too tend to focus on its real-world message. Where they do treat its literary merits, most are sympathetic but say things like: his characters are types, he has trouble writing of personal and intimate human affairs convincingly, or he is not original or clever or profound ? his style is workmanlike (see the book's reception history above). Some ? big names like Alfred Kazin and William Carlos Williams ? are harsher. Kazin calls it ineffectual fiction and sees it as the product of second-hand skill. In Williams's words, it's a crowded story clumsily but sincerely told, even passionately convincing at times. So it seems the verdict is that Cronin's writing is either passable or badly done, but no one misses that it's an important, serious book, and that this is due to its topical concern for medical corruption. Williams writes: The principal interest of the book, the picture Dr. Cronin gives of this English world of medicine?and what goes on in it?is convincingly real [...] . And Kazin says that the "moral" is central. So regardless of a critic's estimate of Cronin's gifts, he or she always respected its reformist significance, expressed through the exposé.

Admittedly there is something somewhat artificial in separating purely stylistic and "literary" features from those of subject and "content"; a good novelistic creation will be good in both, and at some level it's hard to imagine one without the other. But in the case of this book, it seems entirely clear that the main locus of interest was in what could have been conveyed just as well in a polemical pamphlet. What drew attention was the book's revelation and condemnation of the worst of cynical medical practice. It shouldn't be ignored, either, that the book's competent but unremarkable literary qualities ? stereotyped characters, melodramatic plot ? likely served as perfectly complementary packaging for the message: it presents the object of interest in a familiar, undistracting, and pleasant story. Thus The Citadel seems an exemplary case of this kind of novel whose popularity comes from the scandal of high-minded accusation.

Works Cited:

    "Book Notes." New York Times. 28 Jul 1937: 17.

    "Book Notes." New York Times. 9 Aug 1937: 17.

    "Book Notes." New York Times. 6 Sep 1937: 15.

    "Books Abroad." The Living Age. Sep 1937: 81. [Reprints James Agate's review of The Citadel, "Demolition on Harley Street," in the Daily Express (London) and Cronin's reply from the same paper.]

    "Gossip Of The Book World." Los Angeles Times. 15 Aug 1937: C8.

    "Release dates for The Citadel (1938)." Internet Movie Database. Accessed 2 May 2006 [].

Please also see review citations in the Contemporary Reception section.

Supplemental Material

From Dictionary of Literary Biography, a selected list of Cronin's periodical publications:

    "Mascot for Uncle," Good Housekeeping, 106 (February 1938): 30-33. "Prescripts for Ailing Democracy: Dictatorship," Living Age, 354 (July 1938): 384-387. "Sermon from the Snows," Reader's Digest, 34 (April 1939): 1-4. "Vigil in the Night," Good Housekeeping, 108 (May 1939): 16-19; (June 1939): 28-29; 109 (July 1939): 30-31; (August 1939): 32-33; (September 1939): 44-45; (October 1939): 48-49. "The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met: Doctor of Lennox," Reader's Digest, 35 (September 1939): 26-30. "Turning Point of My Career," Reader's Digest, 38 (May 1941): 53-57. "Diogenes in Maine," Reader's Digest, 39 (August 1941): 11-13. "Reward of Mercy," Reader's Digest, 39 (September 1941): 25-37. "How I Came to Write a Novel of a Priest," Life, 11 (20 October 1941): 64-66. "Drama in Everyday Life," Reader's Digest, 42 (March 1943): 83-86. "Candles in Vienna," Reader's Digest, 48 (June 1946): 1-3. "Star of Hope Still Rises," Reader's Digest, 53 (December 1948): 1-3. "Johnny Brown Stays Here," Reader's Digest, 54 (January 1949): 9-12. "Two Gentlemen of Verona," Reader's Digest, 54 (February 1949): 1-5. "Greater Gift," Reader's Digest, 54 (March 1949): 88-91. "Most Unforgettable Character I've Met," Reader's Digest, 55 (December 1949): 8-12. "Irish Rose," Reader's Digest, 56 (January 1950): 21-24. "Why I Believe in God," Woman's Home Companion, 77 (July 1950): 34-35, 98-99. "Monsieur le Maire," Reader's Digest, 58 (January 1951): 52-56. "Best Investment I Ever Made," Reader's Digest, 58 (March 1951): 25-28. "Doctor Remembers," Woman's Home Companion, 78 (October 1951): 36-37, 134, 136-137, 148-150, 152, 154, 157, 159, 182, 183, 185-187, 192; (November 1951): 26-27, 129, 136, 138-143, 165-173, 179-180. "Quo Vadis?," Reader's Digest, 59 (December 1951): 41-44. "Tombstone for Nora Malone," Reader's Digest, 60 (January 1952): 99-101. "When You Dread Failure," Reader's Digest, 60 (February 1952): 21-24. "Make Marriage a Family Affair," Woman's Home Companion, 79 (May 1952): 36-37, 98-99. "What I Learned at La Grande Chartreuse," Reader's Digest, 62 (February 1953): 73-77. "Grace of Gratitude," Reader's Digest, 62 (March 1953): 67-70. "Thousand and One Lives," Reader's Digest, 64 (January 1954): 8-11. "How to Stop Worrying," Reader's Digest, 64 (May 1954): 47-50. "Don't Be Sorry for Yourself!," Reader's Digest, 66 (February 1955): 97-100. "Unless You Deny Yourself," Reader's Digest, 68 (January 1956): 54-56. "Native Doctor," Ladies' Home Journal, 78 (January 1961): 38-39. "Resurrection of Joao Jacinto," Reader's Digest, 89 (November 1966): 153-157.

From Dictionary of Literary Biography, a list of Cronin's individual books:

    Hatter's Castle (London: Gollancz, 1931; Boston: Little, Brown, 1931). Three Loves (London: Gollancz, 1932; Boston: Little, Brown, 1932). Grand Canary (London: Gollancz, 1933; Boston: Little, Brown, 1933). The Stars Look Down (London: Gollancz, 1935; Boston: Little, Brown, 1935). The Citadel (London: Gollancz, 1937; Boston: Little, Brown, 1937). Jupiter Laughs (Boston: Little, Brown, 1940; London: Gollancz, 1941). The Keys of the Kingdom (Boston: Little, Brown, 1941; London: Gollancz, 1942). Adventures of a Black Bag (Switzerland: Phoenix, 1943; London: New English Library, 1969). The Green Years (Boston: Little, Brown, 1944; London: Gollancz, 1945). Shannon's Way (Boston: Little, Brown, 1948; London: Gollancz, 1948). The Spanish Gardener (Boston: Little, Brown, 1950; London: Gollancz, 1950). Adventures in Two Worlds (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1952; London: Gollancz, 1952). Beyond This Place (Boston: Little, Brown, 1953; London: Gollancz, 1953). A Thing of Beauty (Boston: Little, Brown, 1956); republished as Crusader's Tomb (London: Gollancz, 1956). The Northern Light (Boston: Little, Brown, 1958; London: Gollancz, 1958). The Judas Tree (Boston: Little, Brown, 1961; London: Gollancz, 1961). A Song of Sixpence (Boston: Little, Brown, 1964; London: Heinemann, 1964). A Pocketful of Rye (Boston: Little, Brown, 1969; London: Heinemann, 1969). Desmonde (Boston: Little, Brown, 1975); republished as The Minstrel Boy (London: Gollancz, 1975). Lady with Carnations (London: Gollancz, 1976). Gracie Lindsay (London: Gollancz, 1978). Dr. Finlay of Tannochbrae (London: New English Library, 1978).

Image of Cronin from 1952.

Image of 20 Sep 1937 ad.

Image of 1937 dustjacket.

You are not logged in. (Sign in)