Chapter

Canon Fodder

Brean S. Hammond

in Professional Imaginative Writing in England, 1670–1740

Published in print March 1997 | ISBN: 9780198112990
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670909 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112990.003.0007
Canon Fodder

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As an aspect of the book's concern with the emergence of professional writing, this chapter investigates the part played by two women writers, Susanna Centlivre and Eliza Haywood, in promoting the respectability of writing professionally, and in producing a supply of prose fiction that preserved the novel from premature extinction. These writers were explicitly excluded from the canon by the series of cultural coupures made in Scriblerian writing and particularly in The Dunciad. As a contrast to the treatment meted out to them by Pope and his colleagues, the attempts made on Congreve's behalf to configure him as a canonical writer before he had actually written anything are discussed. To investigate the question of how some forms of writing come to be regarded as culturally valuable where others do not, a comparison is drawn between the novels of Eliza Haywood and Daniel Defoe, both writers whose main imperative was to find a market niche, but only the latter of whom is considered to have any enduring literary merit.

Keywords: Susanna Centlivre; Eliza Haywood; professional writing; women writers; novel

Chapter.  17943 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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