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Elizabethan FictionsEspionage, Counter-espionage, and the Duplicity of Fiction in Early Elizabethan Prose Narratives$
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R. W. Maslen

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198119913

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198119913.001.0001

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The Fiction of Simplicity in the Sixteenth-Century Treatise

The Fiction of Simplicity in the Sixteenth-Century Treatise

(p.21) 1 The Fiction of Simplicity in the Sixteenth-Century Treatise
Elizabethan Fictions

R. W. Maslen

Oxford University Press

The chapter begins with a discussion of some of the educational and political theories to which the sixteenth-century novelists responded. These theories are woven into the book as thoroughly as they are woven into Elizabethan fiction, since Sir Thomas Elyot and Roger Ascham seem to have generated as many imaginative variations on their themes as any of the fictions that exploited their arguments. For many writers of both treatises and prose fiction throughout the century, with Roger Ascham and Stephen Gosson prominent among them, the struggle to preserve ‘simplicity’ or ‘one plain understanding or meaning between the parties’ in the face of the ceaseless depredations of linguistic fraud was the principal responsibility of the printed text. It is ironic that Ascham's The Scholemaster, should have become a major source of subject-matter for the Italianate English fictions of the following decade.

Keywords:   Roger Ascham, Thomas Elyot, espionage, The Scholemaster, Gosson, Elizabethan fiction

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