success won by reason of topical, usually scandalous, subject matter rather than by merit and critical respect.
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British Dictionary definitions for succès de scandale
success of a play, book, etc, because of notoriety or its scandalous character
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012