Seductive Forms: Women's Amatory Fiction from 1684 to 1740

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9780198112440: Seductive Forms: Women's Amatory Fiction from 1684 to 1740

Historicist and feminist accounts of the "rise of the novel" have neglected the phenomenon of the professional woman writer in England prior to the advent of the sentimental novel in the 1740s. Seductive Forms explores the means by which the three leading Tory women novelists of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries challenged and reworked both contemporary gender ideologies and generic convention. The seduction plot provided Aphra Behn, Delarivier Manley, and Eliza Haywood with a vehicle for dramatizing their own appropriation of the "masculine" power of fiction-making. Seduction is employed in these fictions as a metaphor for both novelistic production (the seduction of the reader by the writer) and party political machination (the seduction of the public by the politician). The book also explores the debts early prose fiction owes to French seventeenth-century models of fiction-writing and argues that Behn, Manley, and Haywood succeeded in producing a distinctively "English" and female "form" for an amatory novel.

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About the Author:

Ros Ballaster is at Mansfield College, Oxford.


"In a style that is never dull, never full of jargon, Ballaster engages the reader in an exciting examination of early women's fiction. An important book."--Choice

"This critically engaged and engaging book opens a new chapter in the history of Anglo-American literary historiography, advancing readings and arguments that no respectable future work on the early history of the British novel will legitimately be able to ignore."--Eighteenth-Century Studies

"Ballaster has read, absorbed, and deployed a remarkable range of critical methods to make sense of this genre....[A] fine new work of literary history."--Albion

"[A] fascinating study....This ground has been covered before...but it has rarely been as effectively theorized or persuasively argued.--Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature

"Ballaster's approach is provocative and even arresting....[A] very useful and spirited book."--Modern Language Review

"Ballaster's work is a valuable study of a key period both in women's writing and in the novel's history."--Seventeenth-Century News

"An extraordinary and interesting book....The range of sources is extensive, the readings provocative, and the grasp of the relation between text and culture both assured and suggestive."--Review of English Studies

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Ros Ballaster
Published by Oxford University Press (1992)
ISBN 10: 0198112440 ISBN 13: 9780198112440
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
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(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)

Book Description Oxford University Press, 1992. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0198112440

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