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George Gascoigne (ca. 1542-1577) is perhaps best known for his essay "Certayne Notes of Instruction concerning the Making of Verse or Rhyme in English," considered to be the first formal discussion of prosody (poetry writing) in English, which is part of The Poesies of George Gascoigne (1575). His second major contribution to English literature is The Adventures of Master F. J. (1575), considered by several literary scholars to be the first English novel primarily because it is a lengthy (25,000 words) prose work, the subject of which is the fictional experience of "F. J." among England's social elite. Gascoigne's hero details the life of the "landed gentry," that is, those who occupy what we would now consider the upper-middle-class or lower-upper-class social stratum. "F. J." recounts the personal lives of this class in a realistic manner so that readers believe that they are looking at an accurate depiction of the daily lives of the wealthy. Gascoigne's technique is alternately to use letters and poems written by F. J. relating to his love affair with a lady in the house in which he is staying and commentary provided by the narrator, G. T.
Although there do not appear to be versions of the work in modern English, there are several on-line complete text versions of the 1575 publication, the best of which is below in the first link. In the second link is a very helpful scholarly summary of the work's main themes and an analysis of Gascoigne's narrative technique. The third link will take you to the Librivox site where you can actually listen to a complete reading of the text (which you can also access through iTunes).
There are two very helpful scholarly articles on this work that are worth looking at:
Scott, Penelope S. "The Narrative Stance in 'The Adventures of Master F. J.'" PMLA 45:2 (1930): 543-552
Bloomfield, Josephine. "Gascoigne's 'Master F. J.' as a Renaissance Proto-Novel: The Birth of the Judicious Editor as Narrator." Essays in Literature 19:2 (1992)
Because reading Gascoigne in his 16thC. English is difficult for most modern readers, I suggest you get a glossary designed for helping readers understand Shakespeare's language--these are easily accessible on various sites on the internet. Shakespeare and Gascoigne's vocabulary is essentially identical.
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