Despite, or rather because of, their suspicion of the 'novel' and their relatively limited practice of the form, the eighteenth-century British intellectual women known as the Bluestockings serve as a useful indicator of their culture's gradual shift from resistance to sophisticated appreciation of the emerging novel genre. Their preference for generically mixed texts; their privileging of the active reading habits fostered by such materials; their elaboration of a novel theory emphasizing probability and 'experiment'; and their increasing identification with stories of women's experience all worked to define the modern novel by the end of the century. I argue, indeed, that the novel the Bluestockings ultimately accepted, and that a second generation of Bluestocking writers such as Clara Reeve and Frances Burney adopted as its authorial specialty, was not the novel they initially resisted; rather, it was a deliberately constructed hybrid whose theory and practice had been shaped in part by their own priorities for, and understandings of, the operations of fiction.


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pp. 1023-1034
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