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date: 05 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The fashion in the 1790s for advertising works of fiction as “interspersed” with poems looks at first sight like a generic anomaly: a mismatch between the referential transparency of narrative discourse and the self-conscious verbal complexities of lyric verse. Yet prose and poetry mingle everywhere in the prehistory of the novel genre, from classical prosimetrum and medieval dérimage to the formally mixed modes of Elizabethan romance. Eighteenth-century attempts to theorize the “new species of writing” often drew by analogy on established verse genres, and modern histories and theories of the novel routinely emphasize (following Bakhtin) its capacity to absorb and blend multiple styles and traditions. This chapter considers the interplay between prose and verse in eighteenth-century fiction from theoretical and historical standpoints, and surveys (alongside significant non-canonical instances) fiction by Defoe, Barker, Haywood, Richardson, Fielding, and several later eighteenth-century women novelists (Burney, Radcliffe, Smith).

Keywords: poetry, novel, fiction, prose, women, gender

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