Overturning the common characterization of seventeenth-century English prose romance as an exhausted, imitative genre with little bearing on the evolution of the novel, this book argues for the centrality of seventeenth-century romance in key political and moral philosophical debates of its time. Concentrating especially on the intersection between romance and the late humanist problem of self-interest, the book discerns the deeply moral philosophical aspect of prose romances from Sidney?s Arcadia, through Wroth?s Urania and Barclay?s Argenis, to the dozen or so now little-known Royalist romances from the mid-seventeenth century. The book will be of particular interest to scholars and students of the history of prose fiction and the novel, early modern women?s writing, and those concerned with the political valences of genre and the intersections between literature and moral philosophy.

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