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.
common trait’, adding that the ‘category we now call fiction was
Seventeenth-century writing: shifting forms
a “wild space”, unmapped and unarticulated’.19 One clearly needs to
approach this territory without the blinkers that come with an overly
restricted sense of generic purity.
One of the best descriptions of how such a multi-generic genealogy of Restorationliterature might look has been provided by Percy
Adams in Travel Literature and the Evolution of the Novel. This study
is particularly noteworthy because it concentrates on both aesthetic
, with a play of 1700), and a modest selection of prose, the only example of which longer than a few pages is Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1688). There is no court poetry, no devotional verse, no tragedy or tragicomedy, epic or pseudo-epic; neither do we find anything of Cavendish and Philips, of Marvell and Oldham, Filmer or Sidney. Though not exactly in the sense meant by Rochester in libelling his monarch, when measured against the varied and vibrant literary culture of these decades, the serving of Restorationliterature offered by the Norton might well be thought
Satire and panegyric as forms of historical writing
what Michael McKeon has termed the ‘categorial
instability’ of Restorationliterature; but the boundary
between history and the two ‘sister’ genres was
especially problematic in this period, because satire and panegyric
were understood as sharing many of the formal and thematic features
of history proper. 7 Both
satire and panegyric could, like history, be traced back to
(1897), ‘it was not monarchy only that he received into England, but a fresh era in literature and the arts’. 24 W. V. Moody and R. M. Lovett’s popular textbook A History of English Literature (1902) tells much the same story. For them, too, ‘The date of 1660 is one of the most significant in English literature, as it is in the history of English politics’. Like Macaulay, they see Restorationliterature and culture as a direct reaction – indeed overreaction – to what they call the Puritans’ ‘absorption in otherworldliness’. 25 R. H. Fletcher’s 1916 A History of
30 James Simpson, 1350 – 1547: Reform and Cultural Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2004); Steven N. Zwicker, ‘Is There Such a Thing as RestorationLiterature?’, Huntington Library Quarterly , 69.3 (2006 September), 425–50.
31 See, for instance, Curtis Perry, The Making of Jacobean Culture: James I and the Renegotiation of Elizabethan Literary Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Heather Dubrow, Echoes of Desire: English Petrarchism and Its Counterdiscourses (Ithaca
University Press, 1928), esp. pp. 35–59.
28 James Fraser, Triennial Travels, 2 vols (University of Aberdeen MS 2538/1),
I: fol. 37v.
29 The Actors Remonstrance (London, 1643 ).
30 Steven N. Zwicker, ‘Is There Such a Thing as RestorationLiterature?’,
Huntington Library Quarterly, 69 (2006), pp. 425–49 (pp. 425–7).
31 See in particular, Nancy Klein Maguie, Regicide and Restoration (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1992).
32 Edward Howard, The Change of Crownes (1667). Folger MS Add 948/V.b.
329, fol. 34r.
33 Robert Latham and William Matthews, eds, The
essay in this volume.
26 See S. N. Zwicker, ‘Is there such a thing as Restorationliterature?’, HLQ, 69:3 (2006),
27 For some of the statistics on this breakdown in censorship and its impact on print
output, see Robertson’s essay in the present volume.
28 M. McKeon, ‘Theory and practice in historical method’, in Coiro and Fulton (eds),
Rethinking Historicism, pp. 56–7. See also on the benefits and necessities of periodisation, A. Scaglione, ‘The periodization of the Renaissance and the question of mannerism’, in Besserman (ed.), The Challenge of
antiquity (Chapter 2). It closes with the aforementioned outline of
a theory of genre genesis that draws on Derridean and Bakhtinian
notions of time, the archive, and the addressivity of literary works.
In Part II, the focus shifts to Restorationliterature. Following a critical description of late seventeenth-century changes in generic systems (Chapter 3), the next chapter turns to dramatic paratexts and
their engagement of readerly competence (Chapter 4), presenting
the period as heavily inscribed with generic renegotiations. Drawing
on a comprehensive investigation of
Religion, revolution, and the end of history in Dryden’s late works
Matthew C. Augustine
types, furnished an immense bonfire. 2
These scenes are valuable in reminding us that the two writers most deeply identified with Restorationliterature and culture were both marked by experiences of religious conversion. Rochester’s, as we have seen, came only at the end of his life, and it remains an open question as to how we should regard his ‘sapience angelical’. 3 His life was perhaps the most notorious of an age notable for outrage and excess, ‘His Sins … like his Parts (for from them corrupted they sprang) all of