Renaissance Historical Fiction: Sidney, Deloney, Nasheby Alex Davis
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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