• Elaine M. McGirr


In 1740, a work of surprising genius was published. It was a work that fascinated and infuriated Georgian Britain in equal measure. It was read avidly, sometimes angrily, but certainly often: going through multiple editions in 1740 alone and inspiring a raft of imitations, continuations, parodies and commendations. The novelty and success of this book was such that it is often credited with inventing an entire genre. However, its appeal was, even for those who championed it, hard to pin down, but both the pleasure and the anxiety produced by this new work can be traced, at least in large part, to the power of the book’s narrative voice and textual presence (or absence) of the protagonist’s character; indeed, it sparked debates about its protagonist’s character that are still current more than two hundred and fifty years later. Perhaps more than anything else, this new style of writing played into contemporary debates about the nature of the self and the ability to write legibly from the heart.


Eighteenth Century Stage Role Narrative Voice Print Edition Multiple Edition 
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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elaine M. McGirr
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Drama and TheatreRoyal Holloway, University of LondonEghamUK

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