A World of Actions: Fictionality in the British Oriental Tale
Gould, Rachel Elizabeth
This dissertation intervenes in discussions about the development of fictionality during the eighteenth century by examining how British authors experimented with fictional practices through the oriental tale. While the development of fiction has long been linked to the rise of realism and conceptions of modern interiority, A World of Actions shows how British authors used the tales’ emphasis on the external world and the actions and events within literary worlds to explore issues of narrative probability and causality. By focusing on the external, these oriental tales allowed authors to push fiction in new directions as through the mediation of the fantastic and the contingent, the everyday and the singular, and the planned and the unexpected. Through this approach, the fantastical aspects of the oriental tale support the development of fictionality as content like caravans, genii, and hieroglyphics operate at the level of form, enabling authors to explore the progression of the narrative. This project thus offers a new approach to examining the development of modern conceptions of fiction through the intersection of imagination and externalism.