Posts tagged ‘Kate Loveman’

13/11/2010

O-Brazile; or, The Inchanted Island

“This story seems very fabulous, yet the Letter is come to a known Merchant, and from a good hand in France, so that I thought fit to mention it, it may be that there may be some mistake in the number of the Leagues, as also of the exact point of the Compass, from Cape Finis Terre; I shall enquire more particularly about it. Some English here suppose it may be the Island of Brasile which have been so oft sought for, Southwest from Ireland, if true, we shall hear further about it.”
— Abraham Keek (Henry Neville) (1668)

“As for the Island of Pines it self, which caused me to Write this Relation, I suppose it is a thing so strange as will hardly be credited by some, although perhaps knowing persons, especially considering our last age being so full of Discoveries, that this Place should lie Dormant for so long a space of time; Others I know, such Nullifidians as will believe nothing but what they see, applying that Proverb unto us, ‘That Travelors may lye by authority’. But Sir, in writing to you, I question not but to give Credence, you knowing my disposition so hateful to divulge Falsities.”
— Henry Cornelius Van Sloetten (Henry Neville) (1668)

“New Discoveries of late, are as much admired as Miracles of old, and as difficultly believed, notwithstanding the variety of apparent proofs which demonstrate their undoubted Veracity; and without question this Incredulity proceeds from no other cause, than the abuse of Belief, occasioned by such monstrous Fictions as the Isle of Pines, A New World in the Moon, with the like Lunatick Stories, by which the credulous World hath been misguided into a Faith wholly preposterously erroneous and ridiculous.”
— Richard Head (1675)

In 1675, Richard Head followed the publication of The Western Wonder; or, O-Brazeel with O-Brazile; or, The Inchanted Island: Being a perfect relation of the late discovery and wonderful dis-inchantment of an island on the north of Ireland: With an account of the riches and commodities thereof. Communicated by a letter from London-derry to a friend in London. This nine-page pamphlet consists of a single letter supposedly written by a man called William Hamilton, and sent from Londonderry on 14th March, 1674, to his cousin in England. Hamilton begins by thanking his cousin for the news of the death of “that Arch-Pirate Captain Cusacke“, then proceeds to repay the favour with an account of the true and final discovery of “that long-talk’t-of island O-Brazile.”

What follows is an oddly straightforward account of clearly magical (or at least, demonic) events. Hamilton admits that he had never believed the stories of O-Brazile: “Yet I lookt upon it as a perfect Romance, and many times laught the Reporters to scorn: Though many Sober, and Religious persons, would constantly affirm, That in bright days, (especially in Summer-time) they could perfectly see a very large absolute Island; but, after long looking at it, it would disappear.

(We may recall that in The Western Wonder, the narrator and his crew search for O-Brazile to the south-west of Ireland; in O-Brazile, the peripatetic land mass is found off the north coast. That “floating island” again.)

Recently, however, a certain Captain John Nisbet had succeeded in discovering the truth of the mysterious island. Nisbet was carrying a cargo of French goods back to Ireland when his ship became lost in an impenetrable mist, which vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, leaving the ship close to unfamiliar land. Dropping anchor, Nisbet and most of his crew went ashore, where they saw animals of all sorts and an old castle, but no sign of human life, although they approached the castle and called out. Night falling, the men built a fire, and were warming themselves when the most appalling sound suddenly swept across the island – emanating, as it seemed, from the castle. Terrified, the men hurried back to their ship, but could not sail away, as the tide was out.

The next morning, to their amazement, the crew saw three men standing upon the shore, who persuaded them to come back onto the island. There they learned that this was indeed the legendary O-Brazile, which had been, A Receptacle of Furies, made (to Mortals) unserviceable, and invisible; and that when Nesbit and his men were calling at the castle, its inhabitants, By the malicious, diabolical Art, of a great Necromancer, had been tyrannically shut up [with] neither power to answer any that spoke to them, nor free themselves from imprisonment. However, the crew had indavertently lifted the curse upon the island when, Fire was indeed kindled upon the Island by some good Christians. The terrifying noises heard by the men signalled the permanent departure of the island’s demonic inhabitants.

Hamilton concludes his report by relating how Nesbit and his men, having been richly rewarded by the grateful residents of O-Brazile, returned to Ireland with their story; how others had since set out to find the island, now that it was stationary and visible; and that he, Hamilton, had heard the tale from Nesbit himself.

Short and to the point, O-Brazile differs from much of Richard Head’s writing by not straying from its main theme, and by maintaining a serious tone. We can understand how it could have been taken for a true account upon its first publication, far more so than The Western Wonder; although time, of course, would eventually have exposed it as yet another hoax. And it is as a hoax that O-Brazile is most interesting, not just in light of the culture of hoaxing that prevailed at this time, but with respect to one very particular hoax that we have already examined.

We know already that Richard Head had few scruples about borrowing from other writers – and that “borrowing” is putting it mildly – but what he did in O-Brazile is something a bit more subtle. As the 17th century wore on, and hoaxes began to pile upon hoaxes, there was an increasing tendency for the writers concerned to wink at each other, and at the more savvy of their readers: the clues to a piece of writing being a hoax were often there if you knew where to look. Mentioning another hoax by name and in opprobrius terms was a particularly popular touch.

Typically, the author of such a work would start by declaring the truth of his tale, and then decry all those wretched hoaxers who made it so hard for honest men to be believed. Another common tactic would be to have the story told by a third party, usually a merchant or a sailor, someone too “plain-spoken” and “uneducated” to make up a fabulous story. A piece of supporting evidence, separate from the main narrative, was often provided.

These are exactly Henry Neville’s tactics in The Isle Of Pines, as we have seen. The account of Van Sloetten, in which he apologises for the bluntness of his language, Being more a Seaman than a Scholler, is framed by the letter of Abraham Keek, a Dutch merchant of good repute. Van Sloetten shakes his head over the, Nullifidians as will believe nothing but what they see; while Keek, agreeing that the story of the Isle of Pines is fabulous, nevertheless gives it credence because, The Letter is come to a known Merchant, and from a good hand in France.

In terms of both fame and financial return, The Isle Of Pines was one of the most successful of the literary hoaxes, even if its cover was soon blown (as its author intended, of course). It became, in effect, the yardstick by which other such hoaxes were measured. O-Brazile is interesting in this context for two reasons: first, the actual mention of “the Island of Brasile” in The Isle Of Pines, which could even have given Richard Head the idea for a hoax of his own; and second, the fact that Head pinched Henry Neville’s framing device, initially publishing The Western Wonder, with its account of a failed landing upon the island, and then following up with O-Brazile, in which apparently reputable sources declare the mystery solved. In the latter, Head also adds to the credibility of his story by beginning it with a reference to a real and well-known event, the death of the Irish pirate George Cusack in 1674.

Both of these pamphlets shake their heads sadly over those despicable hoaxes so prevalent in the marketplace (one bemoans the sceptiscism, the other the gullibility, of the reading public), before asserting their own truth. Yet in O-Brazile, at least, there is a clear sign that this, too, is a hoax, in the shape of Head’s direct mention of The Isle Of Pines, here stigmatised as a “Lunatick Story” and a “monstrous Fiction”; to the cognoscenti, this would have been the literary equivalent of a broad grin.

And yet it seems that Head’s stories were believed – or at least debated. As Kate Loveman points out, early in 1675, according to his diary, Robert Hooke met Francis Lodwick at Garraway’s Coffee House in London, where the two natural philosophers discussed “O.Brazill and longitude”. Unfortunately, we don’t know what those two inquiring minds had to say about Richard Head’s accounts of the discovery of the elusive island. In all probability – “Oh, bollocks.”

07/10/2010

The Isle Of Pines (Part 2)

“…for having nothing else to do, I had made me several arbors to sleep in with my women in the heat of the day. In these I and my women passed the time away, they never being willing to be out of my company. And having now no thought of ever returning home as having resolved and sworn never to part or leave one another, or the place; having by my several wives forthy-seven children, boys and girls, but most girls, and growing up apace; we were all of us very fleshy…”
— George Pine

To be fair to Henry Neville, it is quite clear upon examining The Isle Of Pines that he did mean more by it than merely to titillate the reader – or at least, it is when you read the final, cut-together version. Those people who only received the first pamphlet, George Pine’s account of life on his island, might be forgiven for thinking otherwise. No doubt they were eager to obtain the second instalment, when it was released – and no doubt they were very disappointed it in. (The disparate survival histories of the two pamphlets speak for themselves.) However, the framing of the first part of the story by the Dutch travellers’ own view of the island two generations later takes much of the ribald enjoyment out of the tale of George Pine and his “wives”.

As discussed by Kate Loveman, this was a time of literary hoaxes, and of wary, close reading of any text – particularly when the text in question contained some fabulous story. As we’ve seen, Neville’s hoax was recognised as such only weeks after the interpolated version was released. It is hardly surprising: there are a number of clues scattered throughout the story that indicate that it was indeed a sham – and that its author wanted it recognised as such. For one thing, the dates included don’t add up, and the geographical references are wrong. For another (as you may have noticed already from my own responses to it) the surname of the characters keeps switching from “Pine” to “Pines” and back again. This is a story told by a Dutch sailor, yet all of a sudden we hear that George Pine’s narrative was brought back to Europe by the French. There’s even a clue to the story’s authorship: hardly anyone in it is given a first name, but among those who are we find no less than three Henrys. In short, Neville went out of his way to make sure that his readers understood that there was a deeper purpose to his writing. The question is, what? This is the frustrating and tantalising thing about The Isle Of Pines. Various commentators have found a found a surprising number of hidden meanings in this short narrative, but how closely their interpretations meet Henry Neville’s purpose we have no way of knowing.

Briefly, The Isle Of Pines is an account of the life of George Pine, who is shipwrecked on an uncharted island to the north-east of “St Lawrence” (Madagascar) in the late 16th century. The only other survivors are four women: the daughter of Pine’s master, two maidservants, and a black slave. The wreck also casts up on shore enough essential items to tide the castaways over until they can examine their environment, upon which they find themselves in an earthly Eden. Food and water are abundant, the climate is perfect, the terrain is gentle, and there are no dangerous animals, only birds and small, goat-like beasts tame enough to be caught and eaten. There is, in short, no need for the castaways to exert themselves to survive – and so they don’t. Instead, Pine institutes a system of “rotation”, wherein he impregnates each woman in turn, over and over again. The babies are brought forth without difficulty and, when they stop breastfeeding, are abandoned to the elements; but so kind is this island that they all survive, growing up on their own while their parents busy themselves producing more. In time, the children are old enough to join the family business, and George Pine pairs off the half-siblings and sets them to work. By the time he was spent forty years on the island, he has five hundred and sixty descendants; another twenty, and the population of the island has reached one thousand, seven hundred and eighty-nine.

The most obvious reading of The Isle Of Pines is as a satire of Charles II, so busy filling his island with illegitimate children that he forgets to actually govern it, leaving it to degenerate into a land of sloth and helplessness. Hand-in-hand with this, we find a subject familiar from our earlier reading. As Mary Fissell pointed out in Vernacular Bodies, the mid-to-late 17th century was a time of “paternity anxiety”, stemming from uncertainty over the inheritance of the English crown, and reflected in the flood of lewdly-toned popular writings about deceitful women and cuckolded men. There are two echoes of this in The Isle Of Pines. Towards the end of the story, there is an odd digression when the Dutch sailors, having left the island, reach India. For no readily apparent reason, the captain then tells us about the local tradition of royal inheritance, wherein the king is succeeded not by his own children, but by his sisters’ – who he can be certain have at least some royal blood, as he cannot be certain of his own. In George Pine, however, we have a man, and an Englishman, who is in the apparently rare position of being quite certain that all of his children are his: he makes a point of telling us that it is four months before he begins to contemplate sex with his companions, and six before he acts on his urges; quite long enough for any pre-existing pregnancy to show itself.

Life on The Isle Of Pines soon becomes a rather one-sided wish-fulfilment fantasy, complete with classist and racist overtones. Alone of all the many shipwreck survivors of 17th and 18th century literature, George Pine never once thinks of trying to escape his island – for obvious reasons. George first initiates sex with the two maidservants, who are willing enough to accommodate him. They start out sneaking around, but soon, “our lusts gave us liberty”, and they start doing it in the open in broad daylight. In contrast, his “master’s daughter”, being better born, is not eager but submissive, “content to do also as we did”. Meanwhile, “my negro, who seeing what we did, longed also for her share”. George is not initially keen to gratify himself in that direction, but with the permission of the others the woman slips into his bed one night, hoping that he will not notice the substitution. He does, but proceeds anyway, being “willing to try the difference. [I] satisfied myself with her, as well as with one of the rest.” And George continues to sleep with “my Negro”, but, as he hastens to assure us, only at night, so that he won’t have to look at her. All four women fall pregnant; they deliver without complications or difficulty, and “were soon well again”. As so George institutes his rotation system, getting each woman pregnant in turns, so that in the end he has forty-seven children.

The lives of the five castaways are spent all together within a single shelter – “They never being willing to be out of my company,” George comments complacently. For all we know, it may be true: we hear not one word from any of them at any point in the narrative. We don’t even know their names until after they are dead, and then only because George has begun to worry about the social arrangements on the island. He divvies his descendants up into “tribes” and names each according to its mother: the “English”, the “Sparks”, the “Trevors” and the “Phills”, after Sarah English (“my master’s daughter”, natch), Mary Sparks, Elizabeth Trevor, and Phillippa, the negro – “She having no surname”.

There have been various attempts to interpret the way the story dwells upon its polygamous foundation and the necessarily incestuous arrangements of the subsequent generations. Some have read it as a belated slap at the Protectorate – to go along with the current slap at Charles – given that during Cromwell’s time there were at least two attempts to make polygamy legal in England, and several serious analyses of the subject, pro and con, published. (I hasten to stress, polygamy – never polyandry. George is careful to tell us that, conveniently enough, girls always outnumber boys on the island: crisis averted.)

Other analysts, much more versed in such matters than I, I’m afraid, have found a myriad of biblical references in the text, both overt and covert. We hear in time about “the 6 commandments”, instituted by George’s eldest son, Henry Sparks Pine, who has taken over as leader of the island. As Susan Bruce, the editor of one of the recent editions of The Isle Of Pines, points out, two out of the six are against blasphemy and sedition, both of which Henry Neville himself was arrested and/or jailed for. The tale has been read as a re-working of the story of Noah, with the children of Phillippa standing in for Ham’s son, Cush, who was “black and loathsome”. Among the items safely cast up upon the shore after the shipwreck is a Bible – of which we hear nothing for the next sixty years. However, as George Pine feels the end of his life approaching, he institutes a law forbidding marriage within the same tribe – “not letting any to marry their sisters, as we did formally out of necessity” – and also instigates regular Bible readings, thus introducing his descendants to the concept of “sin”. He informs his people of “the manners of Europe”, and in place of his own exceedingly laissez-faire system of rule, appoints his son Henry “King and Governor of all the rest”.

In short, George Pine introduces his people to Christianity, monarchy and European mores – and his island proceeds to go to hell in a handbasket.

[To be continued…]

05/10/2010

The Isle Of Pines (Part 1)

Let’s see, what’s next on the list…

Seventeenth-century pornography? Lucky me!

It’s all Kate Loveman‘s fault. She’s the one who brought The Isle Of Pines to my attention, and made it sound so interesting that I put it on The List, even though it violated my self-imposed cut-off by being published in 1668.

It think I’ve discovered a corollary to “may you live in interesting times”: “may you read an interesting book”.

As discussed in Reading Fictions, Henry Neville’s The Isle Of Pines was one of the numerous “shams” perpetrated during the time of the Restoration. It was one of the more successful ones, if not in terms of how long people were fooled, then for how widely it was read: in addition to a huge print run in England, The Isle Of Pines was published in translation in at least four other countries. It would be nice to be able to report that it was the literary merit of the work that made it so successful, but it seems that its main attractions lay rather in its premise – that of an Englishman cast away on an uncharted island in company with four young woman, who with great enthusiasm set about populating their new home.

Neville’s tale was published as a series of pamphlets in the middle of 1668. The first part, issued in June, was the self-narrative of George Pines, written shortly before his death seventy-four years after he and his companions were cast away. The second part, which followed in July, is another first-person narrative, this time of a Dutch sea captain, Henry Cornelius Van Sloetten, who with his crew were driven upon the same island some eighty years later, and found it populated by a contradiction, apparent savages of European descent who “speak English and yet to go naked”. Van Sloetten receives from the current leader of these people, George Pines’ grandson William, George’s written history, which he carries back to Europe. The third pamphlet, released in early August, interpolated Pines’ narrative into Van Sloetten’s, and also appended two letters from a merchant in Amsterdam to a “credible person in Covent Garden”, in which it is agreed that the tale is “a fabulous story”, but one that should be believed, as issuing from reliable sources.

Documents from the time make it clear that people did believe the story, although not for very long: the sham appears to have been exposed as early as the end of August. Many people suspected it to be a hoax perpetrated upon the English by the Dutch, and it was much resented upon that account. No-one seems to have seen The Isle Of Pines as more than, on one hand, a silly joke, or on the other, a bit of smut. This attitude persisted, for the most part, well into the 20th century. In 1920, the American historian and bibliophile Worthington Chauncey Ford reprinted Neville’s work in its entirety, accompanying it with an essay that was predominantly an account of the tale’s confusing publishing history, but also contained some ruminations on its possible influences and meanings – as well as an embarrassed apology for its salacious nature.

As time passed, however, the sexual content of The Isle Of Pines became nothing to get worked up about, and critics were finally able to look past its prurient surface to see what else was going on. At this point, an amusing truth about previous attempts to analyse The Isle Of Pines became evident: that most of them were skewed because they only considered the first part of the story, George Pines’ narrative – because after the initial time of publication it was only that section of the story that was reprinted and reissued, while the framing devices were allowed to fall into obscurity. The Isle Of Pines may not be pornographic in the contemporary sense – it’s more intent upon who did what to whom, and how often, than what they did it with and how – but its sexual frankness, and the nature of its sexual content, still serve to distract the modern reader from what might have been Henry Neville’s deeper intention.

However – in order to understand that intention, we first have to understand its author, and the events of his lifetime. This is one story that needs to be read in its context.

Henry Neville was one of a long line of Henry Nevilles, most of them politicians, as well as travellers and scholars; he is often distinguished from the other members of his family by being called “the satirist”. (His grandfather, who was Elizabeth I’s ambassador to France, is, I see, the latest person to be credited with “writing Shakespeare”.) Neville entered Parliament in the wake of the English Civil War. He was a staunch republican who quickly began to look upon Cromwell with suspicion, and broke with him altogether after Cromwell used armed forces to “dissolve” the Parliament in 1653. Neville had already by this time published various satirical pamphlets, as well as some more serious efforts, and now he began to use his pen again, publishing Shuffling, Cutting and Dealing, in a Game at Piquet, Being Acted From the Year 1653 to 1658, by Oliver, Protector, and Others. Much too blunt about Cromwell’s manoeuvring, this effort saw Neville exiled from England until after Cromwell’s succession by his son, Richard, in 1658. Neville then not only returned to England, but was re-elected to Parliament. Accusations of atheism and blasphemy were brought against him in an effort to exclude him, but the tactic failed.

In any event, Richard Cromwell soon had more important things to worry about than Henry Neville’s pen. He was forced to abdicate in May of 1659, and England began a slow but inexorable journey back to monarchy. This put Neville in a bind: much as he had battled the Cromwells, he most assuredly did not want the Stuarts back, and he fought against the Restoration up until the last moment. Neville was subsequently involved in various subversive, anti-monarchic activities, and accused of others. In 1663, he was arrested and held in the Tower of London on suspicion of having been involved in the Farneley Wood Plot, an anti-Royalist rebellion by the members of a former parliamentary community in Yorkshire. (Supposedly. No-one seems to know what really did happen with respect to this failed revolt, but twenty-six people were executed in its aftermath.) Neville was eventually released due to lack of evidence, and this time he didn’t wait to be asked, but spent the next four years in self-imposed exile in Italy.

During the 17th century, the English were spasmodically at war with the Dutch, who at that time posed a genuine threat to England’s colnies and trade. The first round of the Anglo-Dutch wars was fought during the Interregnum and was largely inconclusive. Both sides eventually ran out of steam, and a peace treaty was signed in 1654. The Dutch had hung on to their position as the world’s preeminent trading nation, however, and antagonism between the two nations remained close to the surface.

At this time, the Dutch, learning from past mistakes, set about building up its navy; while in England, the monarchy was restored, releasing a surge of patriotic feeling that (as patriotic feeling often will) led to war. The second Anglo-Dutch war started well for the English with victory in the first battle, but after that the tide turned towards the Dutch. England was already in financial difficulties, and in the wake of the twin blows of the Great Plague and the Fire of London, Charles II began a series of attempts to negotiate peace.

However, the continuing hostilities culminated in “the English Pearl Harbour”, the Battle of Medway. Due to their financial inability to maintain their fleet, the English had withdrawn their heavier vessels to dock at Chatham. In June 1667, the Dutch broke through the fortifications at the mouth of the Thames and attacked the immobile fleet. Fifteen ships were destroyed and the navy’s flagship, HMS Royal Charles, was captured and towed back to the Netherlands. Charles II again sued for peace, and a treaty was ratified at the end of July 1667.

And in 1668, Henry Neville returned to England, and published The Isle Of Pines.

[To be continued…]

07/08/2010

Lyes, damn’d lyes, and hoaxes

Now, THAT was interesting – if not at all what I expected when I borrowed it. Kate Loveman’s Reading Fictions, 1660-1740: Deception in English Literary and Political Culture is a fascinating study of a complex and dangerous era in English history. It is, however, far more history-centric than I expected from the title. That’s not a criticism: rather, it’s an admission that I’m weak in history, which is one of the subjects I’m reading for in this course. I didn’t do too badly, overall: I already knew about the Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis, and even the sham-prince and the warming-pan; but I confess, references to the “Meal Tub Plot” and the “Flower-Pot-Association” (!) sent me scrambling for Google.

Loveman’s book deals initially with the religious and political upheaval of the Restoration, and the battle lines between the various factions: pro- and anti-monarchy; pro- and anti-Stuart; pro- and anti-Catholic, Protestant and Presbyterian; and pro- and anti-Tory and Whig. The latter in particular, the rise of party politics, seems to have been key, as it became acceptable (and relatively safe) to be in opposition without necessarily being in opposition to the king. It was a time of plots, false accusations and frame-ups; a time that got a great many innocent people killed, and saw the legitimate heir to the throne forced into exile. There was nothing remotely funny about these particular “shams”.

However, running in parallel with these deadly serious manoeuvrings were three related phenomena: the “bantering” and “raillery” and “biting” that flourished in and around the coffee-houses of London, themselves a relatively new phenomenon; the chroniques scandaleuses and romans à clef that did much to undermine the already-shaky position of James II and Mary of Modena; and the extraordinarily complicated literary hoaxes perpetrated during the same period, some again for political and/or religious purposes, and some, it seems, just for @#$%@ and giggles.

It was the latter that were of the most interest to me, as playing a significant role in the rise of fiction writing. Loveman examines the purpose(s) of these hoaxes; how exactly they were worked; how they exploited the news networks of the day; and most importantly how the reading public reacted to them. What is perhaps most amusing about the whole thing is the way that these hoaxes relied absolutely for their success upon male gossip – the swapping of stories and rumours and theories around the coffee-houses and at the Royal Exchange – although of course it wasn’t called “gossip” then any more than it is now. Women being barred at the time from all of the direct news sources, and largely from acquiring the education required to participate, hoaxing was necessarily a game played exclusively by men.

The most refreshing thing about Loveman’s book is the picture it paints of the reading public of the day. Far too many of these studies dealing with the early days of the novel treat the readers of the time like idiots: “simple” people capable of understanding only “simple” stories. While it is true that a great proportion of the population was only just emerging from illiteracy, it seems also true that the already devoted readers of the day were anything but “simple”: Loveman uses extracts from letters and diaries and reactive publications to demonstrate that the readers at whom the hoaxes were targeted were intelligent, sceptical and capable of intensely analytical scrutiny of the text. Hoaxing, she argues, was a two-way game understood and enjoyed by both parties to it, one in which the authors certainly did not have it all their own way.

The final section of the book looks at how this atmosphere of wary and cynical reading impacted upon the development of the novel in the early 18th century, focusing primarily upon the works of Daniel Defoe. Defoe was known to the public as both a shammer and a party political writer. When Robinson Crusoe was published, a section of the public took its revenge on him for his various deceits by choosing to treat it not as “fiction” but as “a true story” – one therefore demonstrably full of blatant lies. It didn’t matter that Defoe didn’t want to play any more; the public wasn’t done with the game. Loveman goes to to show how the reception of Robinson Crusoe shaped Defoe’s subsequent fiction, with the rapid development of the unreliable narrator; Roxana in particular, who tells lies to the other characters, if not to the reader, withholds information, and sometimes chooses to deceive herself. This approach allowed Defoe to place a critical distance between himself and his creation: it isn’t the author who is lying, it’s the narrator. Finally, Loveman examines Jonathan’s Swift’s “bites” before looking forward to the reaction to Pamela and to Richardson’s pose as merely its “editor”: indicating that the game of hoaxing hadn’t quite run its course even by 1740.

While I heartily recommend this book, it has had the most terrible effect upon my already untenable reading list…

“To read” additions:

The Amours Of Messalina, Late Queen Of Albion – Anonymous
Love-Letters Between A Noble-Man And His Sister – Aphra Behn
The English Rogue Described, In The Life Of Meriton Latroon – Richard Head/Francis Kirkman
O-Brazile; or, The Inchanted Island – Richard Head
The Western Wonder; or, O Brazeel, An Inchanted Island Discovered – Richard Head
The Isle Of Pines – Henry Neville
The Perplex’d Prince – Anonymous
The Sham Prince Expos’d – Anonymous

Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts Of Eighteenth-Century English Fiction – J. Paul Hunter

“To watch” addition:

Gunpowder, Treason And Plot

(This book has given me an odd affection for the concept of “plot” as a discrete entity: not “a plot” or “the plot” or “to plot”; just…”plot”.)