The History of the Seven Wise Mistrisses of Rome (1663) as Children’s Literature: Textual History, Gender and Folktale Motifs
Keywords:Restoration fiction, The Seven Wise Mistresses of Rome, gender, folktales, children's literature
This article analyses The History of the Seven Wise Mistrisses of Rome, attributed to Thomas Howard, and traditionally underrated by literary critics and historians as a mere imitation of the Seven Sages, despite its enormous success. The early parts examine the literary and editorial relationship with its source text, and Howard’s prefatory “Epistle.” The latter parts concentrate on the frame story and the fifteen exemplary tales. Special attention is drawn to the gender/feminist issues in the original extension of the frame story, and to the folktale motifs displayed in this compilation, stylistically and thematically conceived to help children improve their reading competence.
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