Novel Cleopatras : romance historiography and the Dido tradition in English fiction, 1688-1785
"Advocating a revised history of the eighteenth-century novel, Novel Cleopatras showcases its origins in ancient mythology, its relation to epic narrative, and its connection to neoclassical print culture. Novel Cleopatras also rewrites the essential role of women writers in history who were typically underestimated as active participants of neoclassical culture, often excluded from the same schools that taught their brothers Greek and Latin. However, as author Nicole Horejsi reveals, the novel was not only accessible to most women, but a number of exceptional middle-class women were actually serious students of the classics. In order to dismiss the idea that women were completely marginalized as neoclassical writers, Horejsi take up the character of Dido from ancient Greek mythology, and her real-life counter-part, the queen of Egypt, who was eventually reinvented in Virgil's Romance epics as the queen of Carthage. Together, the legendary Dido and historical Cleopatra serve as figures for the conflation of myth and history. Horejsi contends that turning to the doomed queens who haunted the Roman imagination enabled eighteenth-century novelists to seize the productive overlap among the categories of history, romance, the novel, even the epic, and therefore to intervene in one of the founding narratives of Western civilization and rewrite it for their own ends."--
Includes bibliographical references (pages 249-268) and index.