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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.
Parent categories: women's fiction - British literature - 1700s literature - literature - novel
Seductive Forms: Women's Amatory Fiction from 1684 to 1740 (1992) - Ros Ballaster [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Amatory fiction is a genre of British literature popular during the late 17th century and 18th century. Amatory fiction predates, and in some ways predicts, the invention of the novel. Amatory fiction was written by women and for women. As its name implies, amatory fiction is preoccupied with sexual love and romance. It is an early predecessor of the romance novel. Indeed, many themes of the contemporary romance novel were first explored in amatory fiction.
The three most prominent amatory fiction writers were Eliza Haywood (who wrote Love in Excess; Or, The Fatal Enquiry, Delarivier Manley, and Aphra Behn. Together, these writers were known as The Fair Trimuvirate of Wit, though their reputation for scandalous writing caused some to call them the naughty triumvirate.
Themes of amatory fiction
Amatory fiction is a formulaic genre which always depicted an innocent, trusting woman who was deceived by a self-serving, lustful man. For the women of amatory fiction, love typically ends in misery.
Authors of amatory fictions often detailed extramarital affairs, which conveniently allowed them to avoid the complications of property, which was a strong motivation for marriage when amatory fiction was popular.
Some works of amatory fiction were amoral, and allowed their characters to commit scandalous love affairs without being "punished" based on themes of Christian, social, legal or other forms of poetic justice. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amatory_fiction [Nov 2005]
Eliza HaywoodNOTHING is so generally coveted by Womankind, as to be accounted Beautiful; yet nothing renders the Owner more liable to Inconveniences. She who is fond of Praise, is in great Danger of growing too fond of the Praiser; and if by chance she does defend herself from the Attacks made on her Virtue, it is almost a Miracle if her Reputation receives no Prejudice by them: And a Woman who is very much admir'd for the Charms of her Face, ought with infinitely more Reason be so for those of her Prudence, who preserves both amidst so many Enemies as Love and Opportunity will raise against them. For one Woman that has made her Fortune by her Beauty, there are a thousand whose utter Destruction it has been.—Some, among a Crowd of Adorers, are so long determining which shall be the happy Man, that Time stealing every Day away some Part of their Attractions, they grow at last depriv'd of all, and on a sudden find themselves abandon'd, and not worth a Bow from those whose Hearts and Knees bended at their Approach before. --The Fatal Secret, or, Constancy in Distress from Secret Histories, Novels, and Poems, by Eliza Haywood (ca.1693-1756)
See also: amatory fiction - women's fiction
Seductive Forms: Women's Amatory Fiction from 1684 to 1740 (1992) - Ros Ballaster
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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