Hans-Peter Wagner

An Introduction to British and Irish Fiction

Renaissance to Romanticism



This book deals with the development of fiction (prose satire and the novel) in Britain and Ireland in the eighteenth century. Considering the discursive embedding of fiction in eighteenth-culture, the monograph traces the rhizomes of fictional forms into visual representation – and vice versa. This is why such artists as William Hogarth and satirists like James Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson figure prominently in the book. Discussing selected passages from canonical works, from Defoe and Swift to the gothic novel, this study includes an abundance of visual material. This is meant not to “illustrate” important aspects in the traditional sense but rather to demonstrate how visual representations reacted to social issues alongside the writers of fiction, and how the latter responded to pictures of all kinds. Eighteenth-century visual culture also included the make-up of books, their frontispieces, title pages, and illustrations. These paratexts have been much neglected; this book shows how they served as seductive come-ons, luring the reader into the main body of the various works. This monograph thus also argues that during the formation of the novel its material embodiment as printed book rivalled its narrative content in diversity and creativity. The so-called “rise of the novel”, a term critically revised here, is shown in the light of the visual in major discursive forms (e.g. engraving, painting, picture series). The proliferation of fiction, a central thesis of the book, can be better understood in the context of visual representation as competition and inspiration for what we know today as the eighteenth-century novel.

ISBN 978-3-86821-566-3, 262 S., kt., 60 Abbildungen, € 29,50 (2014)

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