Scott Black


This article addresses the ways that recent historians of the novel have construed Eliza Haywood and her first work, Love in Excess (1719). It responds to Paula Backscheider's remark, "Suddenly Haywood is everywhere. Yet the study of her individual works is proceeding much too slowly.... Less generalized comment on Haywood and closer study of her texts is needed." I will look closely at a particular moment in her first novel, a moment unexplained by the current critical paradigms applied to Haywood, and thus one that offers us a chance to be surprised by her. In turning from readings organized by sociological effects to ones organized by narrative effects, we can begin to recognize a Haywood who was not only a woman writer but a woman writer, one who grappled not only with questions of identity but also with issues of form, and who belongs in our histories of the novel because her texts are self-conscious explorations of narrative.