This book offers a study of the presentation of social reality in France during the final years of the ancien regime and the Revolution. It offers an analysis of theoretical ideas on the presentation of illusions of reality and discusses the value of such pictures in works of literature. The book is also a history of the novel of the period, concentrating on the changing tastes of readers and the growing significance of fictional forms. The author emphasises the propaganda value of fiction during political crises and assesses the importance of this fiction by referring to contemporary critical reviews. He shows that the Revolution marked a turning point in the nature of fiction - by the end of the century vast numbers of new novels were appearing and the reading process was being forever changed by Cabinets de Lecture and pocket editions.