Abstract and Keywords
Fiction before Defoe had little or no place in the histories and anthologies that defined the novel genre in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In twentieth-century scholarship, it proved hard to accommodate in accounts of generic development emphasizing formal realism as the sine qua non of the modern novel. Yet a large and lively body of prose fiction was produced between the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and the lapse of the Licensing Act in 1695, of interest not only for its anticipation of later developments but also for characteristics impossible to assimilate in linear stories of generic evolution. Fiction of the period (by authors and translators including Aphra Behn, Walter Charleton, William Congreve, John Dunton, Roger L’Estrange, and Henry Neville) was eclectic, experimental, and heterogeneous, and it displays modes and procedures in the process of formation, not any settled consensus about narrative practice.
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