Focusing on Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Goldsmith, and Smollett, this anthology assembles major studies of the dominant motifs in their novels, among them, London, masquerades, the law, sex, the pilgrimage, and the country house. Together the motifs constitute a mythic journey from the city to the green, golden world of the country.
Why the myth ends in the country is the question posed in the editor's opening chapter. A reinterpretation based on recent historical scholarship, it relates the myth's urban and rural poles to the politics of the opposition, the Country Party. Professor Hahn's country thesis suggests that the novel, affirming the values of the landed gentry, is a declaration of conservative romanticism.