Now issued for the first time in paperback with a new introduction by the author, this is a study of those narratives which were written and widely read in England during the first forty years of the eighteenth century, but which have been hitherto neglected or despised by historians of the novel. The author makes no claims for these works as literary achievements. They are seen, rather, as vigorous and highly successful commercial exploitations of enduring stereotypes such as the criminal, the traveller-merchant, the persecuted maiden, and the aristocratic seducer. Placing them against the background of the age, the book sets out to account for the attractiveness of such figures and their characteristic adventures, and to evaluate the importance of these narratives in providing a set of conventional and meaningful characters and situations for the mid-eighteenth century masters of the novel such as Richardson and Fielding.
Popular Fiction Before Richardson