‘True Histories’ and ‘Old Wives’ Tales’: Renaissance Humanism and the 'Rise of the Novel'

  • Robert H.F. Carver


Taking Margaret Anne Doody’s The True Story of the Novel as its point of departure, the article argues that it is only by discriminating between different manifestations of fiction – by exploring discontinuities as well as continuities – that we can hope to disentangle the genealogy of the Novel. Following an examination of Renaissance diatribes against medieval romance and Milesian tales with a survey of the Menippean, encyclopaedic, and epideictic fictions that the Humanists favoured, it concludes that one of the main impetuses in the development of the modern Novel was the recovery and promotion of Heliodorus’ Aethiopica which allowed romance to be redeemed as prose-epic.