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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay considers the way in which various types of fiction were projected at their original readers, primarily through the title pages, but also through reviews and circulating-library catalogues. Increasing use was made of ‘Novel’, ‘Romance’, and ‘Tale’ as main descriptors, with Novel gradually gaining prominence in the later eighteenth century, Romance enjoying a moment of popularity round the turn of the century, and Tale or Tales achieving ascendancy by the 1820s. Additional components in titles, such as the Sentimental, Gothic, and Historical, helped communicate different subgeneric types of fiction. Eventually, a three-tiered system stretched from ‘common’ circulating fiction to novels of reputation, the latter signalled by the use of the larger octavo format and through the development of distinct author identities (even when published anonymously). The Magnum Opus collected edition of Scott’s novels made him a classic in his time, finally establishing the novel as a fully established genre.

Keywords: novel, romance, tale, Gothic, sentimental, historical, reviews, publishers, Walter Scott

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