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Elizabeth Singer Rowe and the Development of the English Novel

Paula R. Backscheider

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Elizabeth Singer Rowe played a pivotal role in the development of the novel during the eighteenth century.

Winner of the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title of the Choice ACRL

Elizabeth Singer Rowe and the Development of the English Novel is the first in-depth study of Rowe’s prose fiction. A four-volume collection of her work was a bestseller for a hundred years after its publication, but today Rowe is a largely unrecognized figure in the history of the novel.

Although her poetry was appreciated by poets such as Alexander Pope for its metrical craftsmanship, beauty, and imagery, by the time of...

Elizabeth Singer Rowe played a pivotal role in the development of the novel during the eighteenth century.

Winner of the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title of the Choice ACRL

Elizabeth Singer Rowe and the Development of the English Novel is the first in-depth study of Rowe’s prose fiction. A four-volume collection of her work was a bestseller for a hundred years after its publication, but today Rowe is a largely unrecognized figure in the history of the novel.

Although her poetry was appreciated by poets such as Alexander Pope for its metrical craftsmanship, beauty, and imagery, by the time of her death in 1737 she was better known for her fiction. According to Paula R. Backscheider, Rowe's major focus in her novels was on creating characters who were seeking a harmonious, contented life, often in the face of considerable social pressure. This quest would become the plotline in a large number of works in the second half of the eighteenth century, and it continues to be a major theme today in novels by women.

Backscheider relates Rowe’s work to popular fiction written by earlier writers as well as by her contemporaries. Rowe had a lasting influence on major movements, including the politeness (or gentility) movement, the reading revolution, and the Bluestocking society. The author reveals new information about each of these movements, and Elizabeth Singer Rowe emerges as an important innovator. Her influence resulted in new types of novel writing, philosophies, and lifestyles for women. Backscheider looks to archival materials, literary analysis, biographical evidence, and a configuration of cultural and feminist theories to prove her groundbreaking argument.

Reviews

Reviews

It seems certain, given Backscheider's impressive track record as a revisionary influence upon eighteenth-century studies, that this generous book, abounding in perceptions waiting to be gleshed out, will energize a round of 'next-generation' research into Rowe and her legacy.

Both original and provocative, Paula Backscheider's new book is also deeply learned and comprehensive in its scholarship...

Paula R. Backsheider's latest book seeks to establish, with impressive detail and energy, the centrality of the fiction of Elizabeth Singer Rowe to the development of the English novel.

An important, pioneering work, this book clears many hurdles with one jump, propelling a previously neglected author firmly into her appropriate place in the canon. Backscheider reveals Rowe's importance as an indispensable voice in literary history and models sophisticated interpretive strategies for the future. A vast achievement.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
320
ISBN
9781421408422
Illustration Description
22 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction: Locating Elizabeth Singer Rowe
1. Positioning Rowe's Fiction
2. Isles of Happiness
3. Toward Novelistic Discourse
4. The Beautiful Life
Conclu

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction: Locating Elizabeth Singer Rowe
1. Positioning Rowe's Fiction
2. Isles of Happiness
3. Toward Novelistic Discourse
4. The Beautiful Life
Conclusion: Lifestyle as Legacy
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Paula R. Backscheider
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Paula R. Backscheider

Paula R. Backscheider is the Philpott-Stevens Eminent Scholar in the Department of English at Auburn University. She is the author of several books, including Daniel Defoe: His Life, Spectacular Politics: Theatrical Power and Mass Culture in Early Modern England, and Reflections on Biography, and editor of Revising Women: Eighteenth-Century "Women's Fiction" and Social Engagement.