The emphasis is upon the critical interpretation of the texts within historical settings, both in antiquity and in the later generations that have been and continue to be inspired by them. All the central issues of current scholarship are addressed: sexuality, cultural identity, class, religion, politics, narrative, style, readership and much more. Four sections cover cultural context of the novels, their contents, literary form, and their reception in classical antiquity and beyond. Each chapter includes guidance on further reading. This collection will be essential for scholars and students, as well as for others who want an up-to-date, accessible introduction into this exhilarating material.