Renaissance Historical Fiction

July 2011
5 black and white illustrations
264 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Renaissance Literature
ISBN: 9781843842682
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT019000, LIT004120

Renaissance Historical Fiction

Sidney, Deloney, Nashe

Alex Davis

First full study of the use made by Renaissance writers of the past in their prose fiction.
Davis's study could scarcely be more timely or invigorating. SEAN KEILEN, College of William and Mary. Williamsburg VA

A majority of the fiction composed in England in the second half of the sixteenth century was set in the past. All the major prose writers of the period (Thomas Lodge, Sir Philip Sidney, Thomas Nashe, Thomas Deloney, Robert Greene) produced historical fiction, with settings ranging from the ancient world (as in Sidney's Arcadia) to the time of Henry VIII (in Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveller). Yet while studies of the historical drama of the period abound, the historical bias of prose fiction has so far escaped any sort of sustained critical consideration. Renaissance Historical Fiction is the first book-length study of this important topic. It argues for the complex ways in which these prose fictions engage with an idea of the past, and of their power to destabilize some of our dominant models for understanding the period of 'the Renaissance'. The wide range of texts discussed includes Lodge's Robin the Devil; Greene's Ciceronis Amor; John Lyly's Euphues and his England; and the anonymous Famous History of Friar Bacon. In addition, a chapter apiece is devoted to three key authors (Sidney, Deloney and Nashe) whose work best represents the imaginative richness and thematic complexity of the historical fiction of the late sixteenth century.

Alex Davis is Lecturer in English at the University of St Andrews.

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Table of Contents

Seven Historical Fictions
'The Web of His Story': Philip Sidney's Arcadia
'Out of the Dust of Forgetfulnesse': Thomas Deloney
Ravelling Out: The Unfortunate Traveller in History


Makes impressive contributions to criticism on Renaissance historiography and deserves recognition for its role in establishing historical fiction as a Renaissance genre worthy of further excellent analysis. ENGLISH STUDIES

The achievement of this study... remains substantial in setting out an agenda for future research. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

Alex Davis's imaginative, articulate study of Renaissance prose fiction's engagements with history deserves a wide readership. RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY

Offers subtle complex readings of a number of works [and] makes an excellent argument that historical fiction was an important literary genre in the period. CHOICE

[M]akes a compelling claim for the special status of prose fiction in this period, a status that has not thus far been recognized. [...] The achievement of this study [...] remains substantial [...] for future research. TLS

Alex Davis's imaginative, articulate study of Renaissance prose fiction's engagements with history deserves a wide readership. RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY

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