How a book is recieved can be studied by researching the critical reception of the author or book in addition to book reviews. You can look for scholarly articles that appear shortly after the book was published (or republished), or at different stages during the life of the author. To do this, limit your search to specific dates. Alternatively, use bibliographies about an author or playwright to hone in on relevant articles.
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Key terms to use in searching indexes are "reception," "reputation," or "appreciation."