Chapter

<i>Imogen</i>: Godwin's Fictional Début

Pamela Clemit

in The Godwinian Novel

Published in print March 1993 | ISBN: 9780198112204
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670701 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112204.003.0002

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Imogen: Godwin's Fictional Début

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Imogen: A Pastoral Romance was the last of three novels produced by William Godwin in the winter of 1783 and 1784 and the one over which he took the most trouble.1 The title alone signals Godwin's departure from the eighteenth-century fictional conventions exploited in his two earlier novels, Damon and Delia, a picaresque narrative, and Italian Letters, modelled on the epistolary form. However, critical discussion of Imogen has generally been confined to Godwin's interest in eighteenth-century primitivism as reflected in the Preface. The novel's most remarkable feature, its construction out of poetic models, has gone practically unnoticed. In particular, Godwin's use of John Milton's A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle, or Comus, has not been explored.2 Godwin's conjunction of pastoral romance, political idealism, and topical comment makes Imogen the first expression of that innovative blend of philosophy and fiction to be developed in Caleb Williams.

Keywords: Imogen; William Godwin; novels; narrative; John Milton; pastoral romance; political idealism; philosophy; Caleb Williams; poetic models

Chapter.  8981 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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