Other Literary Forms
Although Robert Greene is perhaps most respected today for his contribution to English drama, it was as a writer of prose fiction that he was best known to his contemporaries. His novellas made him England’s most popular writer of fiction in the 1580’s. Among his early works, showing the influence of Italian writers, are Mamillia: A Mirror or Looking Glass for the Ladies of England (part 1, 1583; part 2, 1593), Morando: The Tritameron of Love (part 1, 1584; part 2, 1587), Arbasto: The Anatomy of Fortune (1584), and Planetomachia (1585). Turning to the pastoral romance in 1588, Greene published such novellas as Alcida: Greene’s Metamorphosis (1588), Pandosto: The Triumph of Time (1588), Ciceronis Amor (1589; also known as Tullies Love), and Menaphon (1589). Pastorals featuring repentance as a major theme include Greene’s Never Too Late (1590), Francesco’s Fortunes (1590), Greene’s Mourning Garment (1590), and Greene’s Farewell to Folly (1591).
Greene created still another literary fashion in the last two years of his brief life, as he cultivated another form, the rogue, or “connycatching,” pamphlet. His A Notable Discovery of Cozenage (1591), A Disputation Between a Hee Conny-catcher and a Shee Conny-Catcher (1592), and The Black Book’s Messenger (1592), as well as other small books in the series, combined London street argot with satire of middle-class greed to produce a form that appealed to all levels of society.
Greene’s untimely death in 1592 sparked the publication of two alleged “deathbed” pamphlets, Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit Bought with a Million of Repentance (1592) and The Repentance of Robert Greene (1592), both usually attributed to him but neither closely resembling his style and thus probably spurious. The one surely authentic posthumous work, Greene’s Vision (1592), follows the pastoral penitent style of 1590 and was probably written during that most fruitful year of his career.