The outline of William Godwin's novel "Imogen: A pastoral Romance from the ancient British"
Author Name : Dr. Ashutosh Kumar Bharti
ABSTRACT "Imogen : A pastoral Romance from the ancient British" is the last of three novels produced by William Godwin in the winter of 1783 and 1784 and the one over which he took the most trouble.1 The title along signals Godwin's departure from the eighteenth century fictional conventions exploited in his two earlier novels, Damon and Delia, a picaresque narrative, and Italian Letters, modeled on the epistolary form. However, critical discussion of Imogen has generally been confined to Godwin's interest in the eighteenth century "primitivism as reflected in the preface". The novel's most remarkable feature, its construction out of poetic models, has gone practically unnoticed. In particular, William Godwin's uses of John Milton's "A Masque presented at Ludlow Castle, or Comus, has not been explored.2 Godwin's conjunction of pastoral romance, political idealism, and topical comment makes "Imogen" the first expression of that innovative blend of philosophy and fiction to be developed in "Caleb Williams." Though allusion to Milton is in itself common place in radical fiction and polemical treatises of the period, Godwin's interest in Comus as a model for the renovation of genre is unique. Godwin's early experiment with allegorical modes offers a displaced enactment of theoretical issues which sheds light on a relatively obscure period of his development.