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History and the Early English Novel

Details

  • 12 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 264 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.405 kg

Paperback

 (ISBN-13: 9780521604475 | ISBN-10: 0521604478)

This new study of the origins of the English novel argues that the novel emerged from historical writing. Examining historical writers and forms frequently neglected by earlier scholars, Robert Mayer shows that in the seventeenth century historical discourse embraced not only 'history' in its modern sense, but also fiction, polemic, gossip, and marvels. Mayer thus explains why Defoe's narratives were initially read as history. It is the acceptance of the claims to historicity, the study argues, that differentiates Defoe's fictions from those of writers like Thomas Deloney and Aphra Behn, important writers who nevertheless have figured less prominently than Defoe in discussions of the novel. Mayer ends by exploring the theoretical implications of the history-fiction connection. His study makes an important contribution to the continuing debate about the emergence of what we now call the novel in Britain in the eighteenth century.

• Original and provocative new theory on the origins of the novel in Britain, engaging with McKeon's and Hunter's influential arguments • New reading of Defoe in the light of the way his work was considered in his own time • New insight into history and historiography, including evidence from writers previously neglected by scholars

Contents

Introduction; 1. Baconian historiography: the contours of historical discourse in seventeenth-century England; 2. 'Idle trash' or 'Reliques of something true'? the fate of Brute and Arthur and the power of tradition; 3. The History of Myddle: memory, history, and power; 4. Lifewriting and historiography, fiction and fact: Baxter, Clarendon, and Hutchingson on the English civil war; 5. The secret history of the last Stuart kings; 6. 'Knowing strange things': the historical discourse in the century before Robinson Crusoe; 7. 'History' before Defoe: Nashe, Deloney, Behn, Manley; 8. Defoe's historical practice: from 'The Ages Humble Servant' to Major Alexander Ramkins; 9. 'Facts that are form'd to touch the mind': Defoe's narratives as forms of historical discourse; 10. From history to the novel: the reception of Defoe; Conclusion; Index.

Review

'His study makes an important contribution to the continuing debate about the emergence of what we now call the novel in Britain in the eighteenth century.' http://www.readysteadybook.com/blog.aspx

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