Emphasizing the significance of early modern prose fiction as a hybrid genre that absorbed cultural, ideological and historical strands of the age, this fascinating study brings together an outstanding cast of critics including: Sheila T. Cavanaugh, Stephen Guy-Bray, Mary Ellen Lamb, Joan Pong Linton, Steve Mentz, Constance C. Relihan, Goran V. Stanivukovic with an afterword from Arthur Kinney.
Each of the essays in this collection considers the reciprocal relation of early modern prose fiction to class distinctions, examining factors such as:
- the impact of prose fiction on the social, political and economic fabric of early modern England
- the way in which a growing emphasis on literacy allowed for increased class mobility and newly flexible notions of class
- how the popularity of reading and the subsequent demand for books led to the production and marketing of books as an industry
- complications for critics of prose fiction, as it began to be considered an inferior and trivial art form.
Early modern prose fiction had a huge impact on the social and economic fabric of the time, creating a new culture of reading and writing for pleasure which became accessible to those previously excluded from such activities, resulting in a significant challenge to existing class structures.