Although the novel as a form gained popularity throughout the eighteenth century, devotional texts such as the Bible, printed sermons, and books of practical divinity, including The Whole Duty of Man, continued to dominate the print market. These devotional texts establish and foster discontinuous, repetitive, and emblematic reading practices. The form of devotional texts and religious reading practices is essential to a more satisfying description of the formal development of the novel, most notably episodic, sentimental novels like Sarah Fielding's The Adventures of David Simple. The complex relationship between devotional and secular texts involved authors borrowing and adapting forms from devotional texts, while readers adapted their own devotional reading practices to secular texts. The force and visibility of the novel in the eighteenth century resulted more from the novel form's familiarity than its novelty.
Pettella, Tera H.
"Devotional Reading and Novel Form: The Case of David Simple,"
2, Article 7.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/ecf/vol24/iss2/7
Tera Pettella is a doctoral candidate at The Ohio State University currently finishing her dissertation on reading practices and the novel's form.