Novel horizons

The genre making of Restoration fiction

By Gerd Bayer

Novel horizons


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9123-4
  • Pages: 336
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: July 2016
  • BIC Category: Ireland, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, Early Modern Literature, Literature, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Literature: history & criticism


Novel horizons analyses how narrative prose fiction developed during the English Restoration. It argues that after 1660, generic changes within dramatic texts occasioned an intense debate within prologues and introductions. This discussion about the poetics of a genre was echoed in the paratextual material of prose fictions. In the absence of an official poetics that defined prose fiction, paratexts ful­filled this function and informed readers about the budding genre. This study traces the piecemeal development of these boundaries and describes the generic competence of readers through the analysis of paratexts and prose fictions.

Novel horizons covers the surviving textual material widely, focusing on narrative prose fictions published between 1660 and 1710. In addition to tracing the paratextual poetics of Restoration fiction, this book also covers the state of the art of fiction-writing during the period, discussing character development, narrative point of view and questions of fictionality and realism.


'Gerd Bayer has written a remarkable introduction to Restoration fiction. Novel Horizons: The Genre Making of Restoration Fiction is really a novel-theory primer that revisits various theories of the novel in order to create an assessment of Restoration fiction's claims on its readers. The time it takes to get to the substance of this argument is well spent in a wide-ranging discussion of what fiction means historically and culturally. I do not remember as rich and complex an account of the fiction of the Restoration, nor has any recent novel study adorned itself with such a shimmering complex of theoretical notions. When one steps back, what appears is a persuasive account of the meaning and transformations of genre, the emergence of character in an age of individualism, and the ways in which reality could be made to conform to the page. I can imagine that this book would be useful in more than a few graduate and undergraduate classrooms. It might also reinvigorate the history and theory of a genre that can be deceptively easy to underestimate.'
George E. Haggerty, The University of California, SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, Vol. 57, No. 3, Summer 2017


Introduction: making novel readers
Part I: The rise of the novel as genre
1. The novel and its critics
2. The temporality of genre
Part II: Paratexts: the genesis of genre
3. Seventeenth-century writing: shifting forms
4. Paratext and drama
5. Paratext and prose
Part III: The Restoration novel
6. Narrating, telling, and speaking
7. Types, characters, individuals
8. Truth and fiction: reality and the page
Conclusion: reading a genre into being


Gerd Bayer is Privatdozent in the English Department at the University of Erlangen

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