This essay addresses the self-referential tendencies of Eliza Haywood's The Invisible Spy (1754), as well as its reflections on authorship and print culture and its relationship to Haywood's legacy. The Invisible Spy, like other works in Haywood's oeuvre, simultaneously deploys and interrogates literary techniques commonly associated with low culture, including amatory fiction. In the figure of Explorabilis, the Invisible Spy, Haywood creates a proxy that allows her to comment on the insincerity and cynicism of the eighteenth-century print marketplace. Explorabilis imitates features of the periodical eidolon who expresses concern for contemporary culture, as he claims to provide readers with a text whose edifying qualities justify its exploitative content. The Invisible Spy represents both a commentary on mid-eighteenth-century literary culture and an assessment of Haywood's career: it not only emphasizes her prowess in diverse genres but also suggests a sense of cynicism about texts' manipulation of their readers. In self-consciously enacting the project of reforming imaginary readers, The Invisible Spy demonstrates that such contemporary efforts exploit the same material as the texts they criticize. This essay argues that The Invisible Spy serves as Haywood's definitive statement about the literary marketplace and her mastery of it.


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pp. 473-493
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