by Ros BallasterHistoricist and feminist accounts of the "rise of the novel" have neglected the phenomenon of the professional woman writer in England prior to the advent of the sentimental novel in the 1740s. Seductive Forms explores the means by which the three leading Tory women novelists of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries challenged and reworked both contemporary gender ideologies and generic convention. The seduction plot provided Aphra Behn, Delarivier Manley, and Eliza Haywood with a vehicle for dramatizing their own appropriation of the "masculine" power of fiction-making. Seduction is employed in these fictions as a metaphor for both novelistic production (the seduction of the reader by the writer) and party political machination (the seduction of the public by the politician). The book also explores the debts early prose fiction owes to French seventeenth-century models of fiction-writing and argues that Behn, Manley, and Haywood succeeded in producing a distinctively "English" and female "form" for an amatory novel.
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