The first fiction of Moll Flanders is that it is a history and not a fiction, that Defoe is merely its editor and not its writer. The definition of 'fiction' as given in Johnson's Dictionary (1755) is,
"1 -The art of feigning or inventing.
Little wonder then, that Defoe played the editor and that he wrote, if not truth, in a truthful mode. A sense of Defoe writing for a particular end Defoe as 'editor'. Does Defoe think he is justified in using a fictional genre (other reading) The conflict between writing a fiction and wanting it to believed as truth is not unique to Defoe's writing. In 1678, John Bunyan had defended his use of allegory in The Pilgrim's Progress (part 1) on the grounds that, "Bible parables quote". Interesting then to note that by the time Defoe was writing fiction, he was able to use The Pilgrim's Progress as a precedent, distinguishing between a straightforward lie and the writing of fiction for a moral purpose thus,
"The selling or writing a Parable, or an allusive allegorick History [is]... quite a different case and is always Distinguisht from this other Jesting with Truth;... Such are the historical Parables in the holy Scripture, such the Pilgrim's Progress..." (Serious Reflections on the Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1720)).
The type of fiction derided by Defoe, the "Novels and Romances" were the works of Eliza Haywood and Deriviere(?) Manley, among others. Haywood's sensationalist writing is examined infrequently, but still more often than the writings of her contemporaries, such as Manley or Davys. Her breathless rhetoric and fast moving tales of seduction reach moral intrigue only to the extent that the women's 'undoings' are usually told with an excitement at conflict with the idea of rape. On the other side of the coin, a writer named Penelope Aubin used the same episodic structure and story lines of attempted seductions, but with each episode serving only to demonstrate virtue and morality. If Haywood sought to sell her writing for the excitement of her romance struck readers, Aubin did the same, only for a repeated, slap in the face edification. The idea of psychological struggle does not exist and any resistance is inevitably physical,
"She rav'd, she tore, did all that woman could, but all in vain! - In the midst of Shrieks and Tremblings, Cries, Curses, Swoonings, the impatient Ferdinand perpetrated his Intent, and finished her Undoing"
(Haywood, Eliza -Idalia (1723), printed in Masquerade Novels of Eliza Haywood (NY 1986) pp16-17). See appendix two for further passages from Aubin and other contemporary writers.
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