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Title: Dissimulating romance : the ethics of deception in seventeenth-century prose romance
Author: Christie, Edwina Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 5229
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis argues that seventeenth-century English prose romances are motivated by anxieties over truth-telling and the ethical practice of deception. From the title of MacKenzie's 'Aretina: A Serious Romance' (1660), I take the collocation 'serious romance' to refer to the philosophically and politically engaged prose romances of the seventeenth century. Following Amelia Zurcher's work on the concept of 'interest' in 'serious romance', this thesis examines a separate but related aspect of the genre's moral philosophical engagement: its investigation of the ethics of dissimulation. By dissimulation, I mean the art of lying by concealment. Dissimulating techniques include controversial rhetorical tools such as equivocation and mental reservation, but dissimulation is also implicated in laudable virtues such as prudence and discretion. The thesis traces arguments about the ethical practice of dissimulation and other types of lie through English prose romances from Sidney's 'Arcadia' (1590) to Orrery's 'Parthenissa' (1651-69) to suggest that seventeenth-century romances increasingly espoused theories of 'honest dissimulation' and came to champion the theory of the 'right to lie'. The thesis examines a range of works which have hitherto received scant critical attention, notably Roger Boyle's 'Parthenissa' (1651-69), Percy Herbert's 'The Princess Cloria' (1652-61), the anonymous 'Theophania' (1655) and 'Eliana' (1661) and John Bulteel's 'Birinthea' (1664), alongside better studied romances such as Sidney's 'Arcadia' (1590), Wroth's 'Urania' (1621) and Barclay's 'Argenis' (1621). It situates readings of these original English romances within the context of the French romances of D'Urfé, Scudéry and La Calprenède, as well as within the context of contemporary moral philosophy.
Supervisor: Moore, Helen Sponsor: University of Oxford ; University of Sydney
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Romance fiction