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Throughout The Period, Prose Fiction Seems Consistently To Have Been Regarded By Its Authors As Well As Its Reader, As The Most Slippery Of Literary Mediums It Masquerades As Anything But Fictions Notes

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Throughout

the

period,

prose

fiction

seems

consistently

to

have

been

regarded

by


its

authors

as

well

as

its

reader,

as

the

most

slippery

of

literary

mediums;

it


masquerades

as

anything

but

fictions"


The

work

of

Sir

Thomas

More

(1478--1535)

can

seen

in

many

respects,

to

epitomize


this

relationship

between

truth

and

fiction,

most

notability

in

the

way

that

his

texts


'masquerade"

themselves

self

consciously

as

"anything

but

fiction".

In

his

generically


elusive

'Utopia'

(1516),

his

"history"

of

Richard

II

and

his

polemical

tract

"The


Supplication

of

Souls"

More's

use

of

persona,

prefatory

material

and

rhetorical


address

create

works

of

literary

that

exhibit

many

of

the

characteristics

of

fiction


whilst

professing

to

be

otherwise.

In

More's

work

however

there

is

also

the

issue

of


audience

underlying

his

texts.

His

decision

to

write

in

Latin

and

not

publish

his


works,

reveals

a

further

complication

in

how

he

wished

he

work

to

be

perceived

and


by

whom.

More

was

by

no

means

alone

in

this;

the

desire

for

many

writers

of

the


period

to

conceal

their

views

and

intentions

extended

beyond

prose;

the

huge


increase

in

drama

which

explored

contemporary

political

concerns

and

the


marketplace

of

patron

poetry

which

presented

itself

as

amorous

whilst

really

serving


a

financial

turn

suggests

that

the

period

fostered

a

struggle

between

form,


presentation

and

the

role

of

the

literary

writer.


More's

History

of

Richard

II

(1513--18)

may

have

many

generic

similarities

to

earlier


Historical

works

and

accounts

of

Richard

II

such

as

Dominic

Manici

and

Vergils,

yet

it


is

unique

in

the

way

that

it

combined

the

conventions

of

historical

and

biographically


writing

with

those

of

drama

at

rhetoric.

More's

use

of

direct

and

indirect

speech

and


the

hybrid

nature

of

its

genre

anticipates

the

formal

artistry

used

in

Utopia.

Almost


half

the

text

is

composed

of

orations,

reported

speech

and

dialogues

given

the

text

a


dramatic

quality

absent

in

other

contemporary

histories.

By

focusing

on

speech

and


by

association

of

the

interpersonal

relationships

that

were

crucial

to

the

events


themselves,

More's

"history"

is

portrayed

rather

as

a

result

of

a

complex

network

of


human

and

social

interactions.

More

uses

this

ability

to

dramatize

the

struggle

of


power

between

his

characters

in

his

"story"

to

emphasize

the

vice

and

abuse

of


power

and

influence

within

state

affairs.

He

even

describes

the

subject

of

his

text

in


these

terms:

"these

matters

bee

kynges

games,

as

it

were

stage

playes,

and

for

the


more

part

played

upon

scaffolds".

Just

as

his

next

text,

Utopia

would

frequently


assert

the

unfair

plight

of

the

poor

and

the

need

for

a

more

equal

distribution

of


wealth,

his

History

similarly

positions

the

poor

against

the

greedy

and

murderous


nobles;

"pore

men

be

but

lokers

on"

a

drama

that

as

classical

tragedy

asserted


would

be

of

kings

and

princes.


As

well

as

dramatizing

the

events

through

dialogue

and

adding

where

possible


explicitly

moral

commentary,

More

confuses

again

the

genre

of

'history'

and

'fiction'


through

is

use

of

rhetoric

in

a

further

attempt

to

embellish

the

historical

account

and


add

a

didactic

and

moralistic

tone

to

his

prose.

For

example

in

his

account

of

Richard


being

shown

the

"maner

of

the

murther"

of

the

princes,

finished

with

an

ironical


statement

that

the

king

allowed

"the

burying

in

so

vile

a

corner"

because

he

would


not

have

them

buried

in

a

better

place

just

because

they

were

princes,

not

only


cements

his

characterization

of

Richard

as

a

monstrous

and

evil

hunchback

but

also


the

King's

disregard

for

royal

blood

whilst

asserting

his

own

powerfulness.

More

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