Novel horizons analyses how narrative prose fiction developed during the English Restoration. It argues that following the reopening of the theatres in 1660, generic changes within dramatic texts occasioned an intense debate within prologues and introductions. This discussion about the poetics of a genre was echoed in the paratextual material of prose fictions: in trans¬lators’ introductions, authorial prefaces, and other accompanying material. In the absence of an official poetics that defined prose fiction, paratexts ful¬filled this function and informed readers about the changing features of the budding genre. This study traces the piecemeal development of these generic boundaries and describes the generic competence of readers through the detailed analysis of paratexts and actual narrative prose fictions. Rather than trying to canonize individual Restoration novels, Novel horizons covers the surviving textual material widely, focusing on narrative prose fictions published between 1660 and 1710. Drawing on genre theories by Jacques Derrida and M.M. Bakhtin, the study follows an approach to genre that sees a textual corpus as an archive that projects into the future, thereby enabling later readers and writers to experiment with forms and themes. In addition to tracing the paratextual poetics of Restoration fiction, a substantial section of this book covers the state of the art of fiction-writing during the period. It discusses aspects such as character development, narrative point of view, and questions of fictionality and realism in order to describe how these features were first used in popular fiction at the time.
as Ned Ward’s London Spy (1698–1700). The very medium of print, and the lack of intimacy between speaker and listener that it created, placed a heavy burden on the authors of early modern fiction, who had to work in a discursive environment that, in Ingo Berensmeyer’s perceptive analysis, was largely ‘depersonalised’.6 They surely experienced as painful the fact, as pointed out by Walter Ong, that speech traditionally connects to sound, and that sound itself is a prerogative of living beings. Or, as he put it rather inimitably: ‘Sound exists only when it is going
This was reading-matter bought for immediate consumption. These books were not bought to adorn the bookshelves of private libraries; they were read for pleasure, handed on to friends, and then gradually, and in varying degrees of wear and tear, finally thrown out. A score of authors, many of whose names are today largely unfamiliar even to scholars of early modern fiction, were for decades very popular with English readers. As has long been recognised, and most significantly since the pioneering work of Ros Ballaster, English women writers drew on this fiction and
to grave, allowing the author to paint a detailed picture of the maturation and development of a Restoration woman. The novel’s protagonist takes shape to an extent that is rarely found in narrative prose fiction at the time and may qualify for the title of first female Bildungsroman if it were not for 182 The Restoration novel the protagonist’s utter lack of intellectual education or even interest. Yet the development of the eponymous professional woman clearly goes beyond the kind of flat and one-dimensional character usually found in early modern fiction.47
that the story does not relate to the readers’ own social circumstances but insists it is from Rome.119 The question over truth forms a central concern in the author’s engagement with the work’s readers: ‘In the mean time I wou’d have them rest satisfied the whole Story is a Fiction, that there is no such Country in the World as Albigion, nor any such person now Living, or ever was, as Zarah, or the other Names Characteris’d, either in This or the First Part.’120 The whole project of early modern fiction appeared to have benefited, in the minds of both authors and