The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

2018 Group Reads - Archives > The Female Quixote - Background

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message 1: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2785 comments Mod
Please post any background information for The Female Quixote or the author Charlotte Lennox here.

If you have any information about political events or what else was happening when the book was written, feel free to add that here as well.

message 2: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  | 685 comments Mod

Project Gutenberg available in e-pub, kindle, and text.

The Female Quixote; or, The Adventures of Arabella is a novel written by imitating and parodying the ideas of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote. Published in 1752, two years after she wrote her first novel, The Life of Harriot Stuart, it was her best-known and most-celebrated work. It was approved by both Henry Fielding and Samuel Richardson, applauded by Samuel Johnson, and used as a model by Jane Austen for Northanger Abbey. It has been called a burlesque, "satirical harlequinade", and a depiction of the real power of females. While some dismissed Arabella as a coquette who simply used romance as a tool, Scott Paul Gordon said that she "exercises immense power without any consciousness of doing so". Norma Clarke has ranked it with Clarissa, Tom Jones, and Roderick Random as one of the "defining texts in the development of the novel in the eighteenth century".

The Female Quixote was officially anonymous and technically unrecognised until after Lennox's death. The anonymity was an open secret, though, as her other works were advertised as, by "the author of The Female Quixote", but no published version of The Female Quixote bore her name during her lifetime. The translator/censor of the Spanish version, Lt-Col. Don Bernardo María de Calzada, appropriated the text, stating "written in English by unknown author and in Spanish by D. Bernardo," even though he was not fluent in English and had only translated into Spanish a previous French translation, which was already censored. In the preface, de Calzada also warns the reader of the questionable quality of the text, as good British texts were only written by "Fyelding" [sic] and Richardson, the two authors with international fame (in contrast to the often mechanical "romances" produced by various names for shops like Edmund Curll's or the satirical romances appearing under one-off pseudonyms that were not, first and foremost, novels). (From Wikipedia.)

I found very little information regarding this novel. However there is an interesting article which discusses the romances Arabella reads in the novel: Arabella's Romances

message 3: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 598 comments Charlotte Lennox was awfully young when she wrote this! I’ve just started it and the heroine reminds me a lot of the heroine of Camilla by Fanny Burney. The Female Quixote is easier to read, though—and a lot easier reading than The Mysteries of Udolpho! For those of you wondering whether to take the plunge.

message 4: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1804 comments Mod
I've just finished the first section and it is definitely an easy read, although dense. I'm reading the Penguin Classics version The Female Quixote which notes all the references to other romances so I am constantly flipping back and forth between the text and the notes at the end. This might be a more challenging read if going on the text alone.

message 5: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick It is certainly a bagatelle.
Not sure I would want all the references. I am pro annotation, but on this one it sounds like work going in and out of the book so much.
Fairly sure I will not have book 2 done by Monday as is.

message 6: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2785 comments Mod
Don't worry, Phodrick. We are spending five weeks on this book and the first two books are the longest. You should be able to catch up.
I have read the first two books and will be opening the first discussion thread tomorrow evening, while the events are still fresh in my mind.

message 7: by Deborah, Moderator (last edited Apr 04, 2018 09:33AM) (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4461 comments Mod
Charlotte Lennox (?1729-1804) was an English novelist, poet, and dramatist. She was also an unsuccessful actor, and daughter of an English army officer. There is a possibility that she was born in Gibraltar, and grew up in the environs of New York. Her father died while she was in her teens, and she moved to England.

Her patrons for her early writings included Lady Isabella Finch, but later she was known to the literary establishment. Her husband, Alexander Lennox, did little to support the family, so she wrote for money. While her first book (Harriot Stuart) was well received, she never achieved financial success. Throughout the 1750's she worked as a translator and editor of Shakespeare.

She published her last novel (Euphemia) in 1790 and left her husband in 1792 - remaining in dire poverty.

(The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature)

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The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910

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