The Rise of the English Novel Contemporary Commentary On The Novel - Essay

Contemporary Commentary On The Novel

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

Lennard J. Davis (essay date 1983)

SOURCE: "Theories of Fiction in Early English Novels," in Factual Fictions: The Origins of the English Novel, Columbia University Press, 1983, p. 102-22.

[In the following essay, Davis argues that early novelists put forth concepts of fiction that implicitly sought to disarm a public that paradoxically both demanded fiction and looked down upon "untruthful" tales.]

If Robinson Crusoe wound up on an island, historians of the novel were partially responsible for putting him there. Until fairly recently, it had generally been the practice of literary histories of the novel, to regard Defoe as the first English...

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