It-narratives and spy novels

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter focuses on it-narratives and spy novels. In the 1750s and 1760s, coins, clockwork, coaches, garments, pens, pets, and pests, all assumed a speaking part in a series of immensely popular tales recounted from the point of view of inanimate things or animals. This popular appetite for the adventures and ruminations of coins and clothing was complemented by a resurgence of interest in ‘spy narratives’, which recorded the exploits of Europeans and exposed the follies of their customs and manners from the perspective of an invisible rambler or foreign observer. Although slighted in narratives of the rise of the novel that emphasize formal realism and psychological depth, such subgenres play a significant role in the mid-eighteenth-century history of prose fiction in their representation of the print market’s response to the shifting relations between persons and things wrought by commercial expansion, social mobility, and the burgeoning imperial engagements of Great Britain at mid-century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford History of the Novel in English
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 2: English and British Fiction 1750-1820
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780199574803
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Commercial expansion
  • It-narratives
  • Prose fiction
  • Social mobility
  • Spy narratives
  • Spy novels


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