Now a standard work on the subject, Popular Fiction before Richardson surveys the largely forgotten fiction from the first forty years of the eighteenth century. Issued for the first time in paperback with a new introduction by the author, this is a study of those narratives which were written and widely read in England, but which have been previously neglected by historians of the novel. Richetti makes no claims for these works as literary achievements--they are seen, rather, as vigorous and highly successful commercial exploitations of enduring stereotypes such as the criminal, the traveller-merchant, the persecuted maiden, and the aristocratic seducer. Setting them against the background of the age, the book accounts for the attractiveness of such figures and their characteristic adventures, and evaluates the importance of these narratives in providing a set of conventional and meaningful characters and situations for the mid eighteenth-century masters of the novel such as Richardson and Fielding.
`excellent and intelligent book'
Times Literary Supplement
`a real book, a good book. He is thoughtful and he makes you think. He sees the inherent triviality of his material, but sees in this a far from trivial question, "What is the use of bad art?" To raise the question at all is to give the book substance. It tells us that the material is going to be handled intelligently.'
Review of English Studies