chapter  2
‘Fable-World[s]’ Populated by ‘Human Creatures’: Toward a Definition of the Experimental Romantic Moral Romance 1
WithBen P. Robertson
Pages 33

This chapter advances a tentative definition, based on Inchbald's and Hawthorne's stated intentions and on their actual practice, of the Romantic moral romance. It focuses on A Simple Story, Nature and Art, The Scarlet Letter and The Marble Faun to suggest how the four books represent a unique kind of writing that differs from the traditional British novel. At the time Inchbald published A Simple Story in 1791, the novel genre was relatively new as a popular form in English. In fact, as Catherine Gallagher notices in an examination of women's roles in the literary marketplace, fiction itself was a 'new category of discourse' that emerged into the public consciousness. The statement also reveals that Inchbald's interest lies, not in individual people, but in 'human creatures' in general, which she depicts in characters who amount to little more than caricatures, much like the figures who appear in chivalric romances and moral tales.