Novel Cleopatras: Romance Historiography and the Dido Tradition in English Fiction, 1688–1785

By Nicole Horejsi

© 2019

Advocating a revised history of the eighteenth-century novel, Novel Cleopatras showcases the novel’s origins in ancient mythology, its relation to epic narrative, and its connection to neoclassical print culture. Novel Cleopatras also rewrites the essential role of women writers in history who were typically underestimated as active participants of neoclassical culture, often excluded from the same schools that taught their brothers Greek and Latin. However, as author Nicole Horejsi reveals, a number of exceptional middle-class women were actually serious students of the classics.

In order to dismiss the idea that women were completely marginalized as neoclassical writers, Horejsi takes up the character of Dido from ancient Greek mythology and her real-life counterpart Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt. Together, the legendary Dido and historical Cleopatra serve as figures for the conflation of myth and history. Horejsi contends that turning to the doomed queens who haunted the Roman imagination enabled eighteenth-century novelists to seize the productive overlap among the categories of history, romance, the novel, and even the epic.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 296 pages
  • Illustrations: 10
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP003673

  • PUBLISHED APR 2019

    From: $56.25

    Regular Price: $75.00

    ISBN 9781442647145
  • PUBLISHED APR 2019

    From: $56.25

    Regular Price: $75.00

Quick Overview

Advocating a revised history of the eighteenth-century novel, Novel Cleopatras showcases the novel’s origins in ancient mythology, its relation to epic narrative, and its connection to neoclassical print culture.

Novel Cleopatras: Romance Historiography and the Dido Tradition in English Fiction, 1688–1785

By Nicole Horejsi

© 2019

Advocating a revised history of the eighteenth-century novel, Novel Cleopatras showcases the novel’s origins in ancient mythology, its relation to epic narrative, and its connection to neoclassical print culture. Novel Cleopatras also rewrites the essential role of women writers in history who were typically underestimated as active participants of neoclassical culture, often excluded from the same schools that taught their brothers Greek and Latin. However, as author Nicole Horejsi reveals, a number of exceptional middle-class women were actually serious students of the classics.

In order to dismiss the idea that women were completely marginalized as neoclassical writers, Horejsi takes up the character of Dido from ancient Greek mythology and her real-life counterpart Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt. Together, the legendary Dido and historical Cleopatra serve as figures for the conflation of myth and history. Horejsi contends that turning to the doomed queens who haunted the Roman imagination enabled eighteenth-century novelists to seize the productive overlap among the categories of history, romance, the novel, and even the epic.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 296 pages
  • Illustrations: 10
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "Novel Cleopatras is a persuasive and intelligent work which makes the case that classical precedents are not put aside with the rise of the novel in the eighteenth century, but rather complicated and re-appropriated to produce new mythologies from old traditions. Nicole Horejsi also demonstrates that women writers, rather than remaining ignorant of classical models, were instrumental in this process of shaping a ‘new’ neo-classicism."


    Rosalind Ballaster, Faculty of English, Mansfield College, University of Oxford

    "Novel Cleopatras is a valuable scholarly argument about uses of Dido and Cleopatra stories in the eighteenth century as part of the ongoing discussion surrounding the conception of the novel, the instability of generic categories, and the attitudes towards the classics as literature became more inclusive."


    Tanya Caldwell, Professor, Department of English, Georgia State University
  • Author Information

    Nicole Horejsi is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at California State University in Los Angeles.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction
       Rites of Initiation: Reading Epic in Eighteenth-Century Britain
       Returning to Narrative Origins: Finding Alternatives in Vergil’s Aeneid
       Dido in Barbados: The Case of Spectator

    Part 1: Demythologizing Dido: Epic and Romance
    1 “‘Pulcherrima Dido’: Jane Barker and the Epic of Exile” 
       The “Glory of the Scipio’s”? Exilius’ Romance Rewriting of History
       Resembling Dido: Reinventing Carthage and Rome
       Becoming Roman: Exilius and Jacobite Identity
       Representing Troy Town: Barker’s Jacobite Nostalgia
    2. “‘What is there of a Woman Worth Relating?’ Revising the Aeneid in Henry Fielding’s Amelia
       “A Fortress on a Rock”: New Epic Foundations in Amelia
       “A Good Woman and Yet”: Harrison and Epic Precedents
       Dalila, Jezebel, Medea? Miss Mathews
       Mrs. Bennet-Atkinson and “All the Fortune given her by her Father”

    Part 2: Mythologizing Cleopatra: Romance Historiography and the Queens of Egypt
    3. “‘Making History out of Nothing’: Creating a Women’s Classical Canon in Charlotte Lennox’s Female Quixote”
       The Example of Outlandish People: Romance Values and the Geopolitical Landscape
       Laws of its Own: An Empire of Love?
       “But for the famous Scudéry”: Reviving Classical Precedents
       “A Position almost too Evident for Proof”: Arabella and the Divine
    4. “‘Shame’—or ‘Courtly Glory’? Scripting Augustan History in Sarah Fielding’s Lives of Cleopatra and Octavia”
       On Pleasing Delusions: Reading The Lives Against the Grain
       Imagining Power: Fielding’s Cleopatra and the Construction of History
       Being Made a Sacrifice: Octavia and Roman Virtue
    5. “Whose ‘Wild and Extravagant Stories’? Challenging Epic in Clara Reeve’s Progress of Romance”
       Epic in Prose: Redefining Women’s Fiction
       Revising Origins: The Bible as Oriental Tale
       Penelope, Medea, Deianeira: Classical Epic Revisited
       Seizing Narrative Control: Lessons from Cleopatra and Scheherazade