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date: 28 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter analyzes the market for the English novel at the end of the 1760s. As far as British fiction is concerned, there were peaks and troughs during the 1760s rather than a steady upward curve, but by the end of the century getting on for 100 new novels were appearing annually in contrast to the forty listed for the year 1770. What was being offered to the reading public during the period were ‘Probable Feign’d Stories’ satisfying the most basic requirements of what Ian Watt called ‘formal realism’, a development in which Henry Fielding played an influential role. The chapter shows that, at the end of the 1760s, the British novel was patently flourishing, thanks in large part to the publishing of several innovative forms of prose fiction such as the Gothic and the sentimental novel.

Keywords: English novel, formal realism, Henry Fielding, prose fiction, Gothic novel, sentimental novel, British fiction, publishing

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