The genre of romance often proves a strained medium for magic, with its outlandish devices for rebirth or reform as well as the stock tools Samuel Johnson once faulted, “a hermit and a wood, a battle and a shipwreck.”1 For all of its heavy-handedness, however, romance is also a “persistent” genre:2 it animates dream visions, pervades epic ambition, and structures many of the problems and solutions of the novel. It does all of these things, moreover, in the course of giving families their grand histories and precious meanings. When she began the romance of The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania more than twenty years after the publication of her uncle’s Arcadia, Lady Mary Wroth made use of the genre in order to recast the story of her life and her origins, as well as to recount her motives for writing a romance. In Wroth’s hands, at least, romance is supple and sophisticated enough, even in its obviousness.
KeywordsYoung Brother Patriarchal Family Romance World Illegitimate Child Psychic Process
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