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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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George Gascoigne and the Fiction of Failure

George Gascoigne and the Fiction of Failure

(p.114) 3 George Gascoigne and the Fiction of Failure
Elizabethan Fictions

R. W. Maslen

Oxford University Press

George Gascoigne specialized in the fiction of failure. His narratives in prose and verse record the mournful resilience of youths whose aspirations fade and superannuated lovers whose hopes are dashed. He aligns his own career with those of his protagonists, both in his poems and in the playfully elusive epistles he places at the beginning of his works. His characters devise elaborate plots for their own advancement, only to find their strategies overthrown by unexpected developments, their plots demolished by devious counter-plots, their complex efforts at subterfuge slipping out of control by reason of their sheer complexity. Their willingness to improvise, to seize every opportunity to get what they want, is signaled by the term Gascoigne uses to describe the narratives that contain them: ‘adventures’. His prose fiction The Adventures of Master F. J. (1573) consists of a series of risks or hazards rashly undertaken.

Keywords:   George Gascoigne, counter-plots, The Adventures of Master F. J.

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