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date: 22 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay analyses the relationship between politics and literature, history and fiction, in secret history—a polemical form of historiography that flourished around the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth. It shows that early novelists, including Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, and Delarivier Manley, created a number of different rhetorical effects by reworking the conventions of secret history. It also argues, however, that literary histories which read secret history only as a transient precursor to its more durable cousin, the novel, invariably pass over or flatten out some of this genre’s most distinctive and unusual characteristics.

Keywords: secret history, politics, fiction, historiography, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Delarivier Manley

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