preload preload preload preload

Popular Fiction by Women 1660-1730: An Anthology Oxford University Press USA Paula R. Backscheider


31st October 2011 History Books 6 Comments

Popular Fiction by Women 1660-1730 gathers together for the first time a sparkling selection of shorter fiction by the most successful women writers of the period, from Aphra Behn, the first important English female professional writer, to Penelope Aubin and Eliza Haywood, who with Daniel Defoe dominated prose fiction in the 1720s. The texts included were among the best-selling titles of their time, and played a key role in the expanding market for narrative in the early eighteenth century. Crucial to the development of the longer novel of manners and morals that emerged in the mid-eighteenth century, these novellas have been much neglected by literary historians, but now–with the impetus of feminist criticism–have been reestablished as an essential chapter in the history of the novel in English. All lovers of fiction will find much here to delight, stimulate, and educate.

“Reinvigorates the teaching of 18th-century literature. Provides lost voices, which have long deserved to be heard.”–William J. Lohman, Jr., University of Tampa

“The works are very well selected and beautifully edited, without depriving readers of original typography; the introductions and notes are informative without being intrusive – wonderful!”–April Alliston, Princeton University

–This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Paula R. Backsheider is at Auburn University, Alabama. John J. Richetti is at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. –This text refers to the Paperback edition.

“Reinvigorates the teaching of 18th-century literature. Provides lost voices, which have long deserved to be heard.”–William J. Lohman, Jr., University of Tampa

“The works are very well selected and beautifully edited, without depriving readers of original typography; the introductions and notes are informative without being intrusive – wonderful!”–April Alliston, Princeton University

–This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Popular Fiction by Women 1660-1730: An Anthology










  • 6 responses to "Popular Fiction by Women 1660-1730: An Anthology Oxford University Press USA Paula R. Backscheider"

  • GruberFakr
    15:48 on October 31st, 2011
    Reply to comment

    If you like Jane Austen, you’ll really like Love In Excess. It is both a humorous and exciting tale of loves lost, gained, regained, and unconsummated. The diversity of characters really makes this book intriguing. You never know who will do or say what , and if you think you do, you’ll be wrong. What will be surprising to readers of Austen or Burney is the amount of control the female characters have over their own fate. In a Burney novel, for example, events tend to happen to the female characters rather than the character shaping the events. This isn’t the case with Love In Excess. The women in this novel are very much active in their own circumstances, whether for good or ill. Love in Excess deserves your attention. In the first half of the eighteenth century the only novel to out sell it was Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, which suggests to me that scholars should give it more attention for its importance in the development of the English novel. Regardless, scholarly reader or escapist will enjoy this book.

  • HPBlue
    1:35 on November 1st, 2011
    Reply to comment

    Austen fans would be advised to read Haywood’s History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, not Love in Excess, which is a much earlier “novel” following the fortunes of a male protagonist through a series of increasingly bizarre romantic twists and tangles. It’s a fast read and quite enjoyable, but be prepared for some serious nuttiness.

  • William Benke
    20:48 on November 2nd, 2011
    Reply to comment

    I would actually recommend this particular edition of Love in Excess because it is explanatory without being overwhelming (Oxford World Classics series- I’m looking at you!) Originally published in 1719- the same year as Robinson Crusoe, Love in Excess was one of the first smash british novels, and it’s influence on 19th century writers like the Bronte sisters is quite obvious.

    Love in Excess tells the story of an amorous French count. In chapter one he gets married, in chapter two he tries to seduce his ward and in chapter three… well- I don’t want to ruin the ending.

    Despite my trepidation at tackling this predecessor of the victorian romance novel, I ended up quite enjoying it, lack of paragraphs aside. Were paragraphs only invented in the 19th century?

  • Analyzethis
    8:15 on November 3rd, 2011
    Reply to comment

    It’s a shame that Richardson gets credit for being the first novelist–Haywood wrote “Love in Excess” twenty years prior to “Pamela”!!! And frankly, I think “Love in Excess” is not only a much better novel in terms of its craft and general use of language, it is also much more entertaining–which was the aim of many early novels anyway.

    “Love in Excess” is a bawdy, surprisingly complex romp. What you have, I think, are morally ambiguous characters; some are just flat-out amoral; and the fun and playful thing about EH is that she treats her characters as consistent, moral creatures, yet they are far from it. Indeed, for those that read EH as simply a romance writer, they’re missing out on a wealth of sarcasm, satire, and humor. EH knew she was creating despicable people; she wanted to point out the absurdities of courtly love; and by writing in a tone that is seemingly serious, she is also testing her audience. Even though this was the first novel, Haywood understood how to write both to the masses and to her peers. In other words, “Love in Excess” is multi-functional and sets a standard for those like Richardson to follow–who, hypocritically, I’d imagine, would deny her influence and dismiss her talents because of her gender. It’s wild that Haywood is hardly known: she’s a master writer, a brilliant social commentator, and in possession of a tremendous analytical mind. I admire her very much.

  • PaulTheZombie
    9:24 on November 3rd, 2011
    Reply to comment

    It seems everyone always wants to pinpoint the “first novel.” It’s not Pamela, it’s Love in Excess. It’s Love in Excess, it’s Gulliver’s Travels. It’s not Gulliver’s Travel’s, it’s Oroonoko.

    Actually, the first novel is probably Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais. Or Don Quixote. Either way, it’s not in English. And when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter. Love in Excess (and the others around it) should be judged on its own merit, not in chronological/”novelistic” relation to other supposed “first novels.”

    So, judged on its own merit, is Love in Excess any good?

    Well, first of all, it’s highly theatrical, in multiple senses of the word. Eliza Haywood was a successful actress and the novel is dedicated to a big former stage star of the day. (It’d be like a book being dedicated to Julia Roberts today.) The novel is composed in three highly-differentiable parts – they seem like they could be three acts in a play. The characters are often easily placed into types – one could imagine one person playing three of characters of the same type (e.g., the deceitful woman) that each appear in a separate part/act.

    Love in Excess is, fundamentally, about exactly that – what happens when too much “love” is shooting around everywhere. Love, lust – whatever. Haywood delves deeply into what love is, and it’s a very different notion than what we have.

    Probably few people today read Love in Excess for its plot, but the story is worth it – convoluted, ridiculous, at points hilarious, full of outrageous coincidences, trashy, and by the standards of the day surely damn near pornographic. The syntax takes a little getting used to, but the book flows well as it goes on.

    The main fault of Love in Excess to the modern reader, though, is that it’s not saucy *enough.* Compared with romance novels (that phrase was once oxymoronic, but I think it makes sense even in relation to Love in Excess) today, you’re left with a bit of the “That’s it?” feeling.

    (Still, by the standards of the day…)

  • clomid pcos
    17:10 on November 3rd, 2011
    Reply to comment

    So laments out one of Eliza’s Haywood’s love-crazed heroines in LOVE IN EXCESS.

    Don’t read this book unless you can enter fully into the amatory spirit of the early eighteenth century! You’ll be expected to shudder at the power of passion, tremble when a man tempts a virtuous woman – and sympathize with fainting fits, jealous ravings and the short fuses of duel-happy cavaliers.

    Eliza Haywood burst upon the London literary scene with LOVE IN EXCESS in 1719, the same year Defoe published ROBINSON CRUSOE. Both novels created a sensation.

    Haywood’s plot centers around Count D’elmont, a young war hero whose great charm and personal beauty cause one woman after another to pursue him. He himself is immune to sentiment and marries purely for money. Too late, he encounters a young woman who makes him burn with love.

    Various other ladies and gentlemen in the Count’s circle fall prey to love and furnish the reader with heart-pounding adventures. Shocking things happen, including murders, suicides, abductions and betrayals of trust.

    Haywood maintains that her characters can’t be blamed for their excesses. Love is a misfortune like poverty or sickness and “absolutely controls the will.”

    I was inspired to re-read Haywood’s first novel after finishing her last novel, THE HISTORY OF JEMMY AND JENNY JESSAMY. Reading these books in succession is fascinating, because Haywood does a complete turnaround between 1719 and 1753. Her hot-blooded lovers give way to calm and utterly rational lovers. Haywood wrote for a living and had to update her product to satisfy the changing literary marketplace.

    LOVE IN EXCESS is a must-read for fans of Eliza Haywood. Others, of course, might find it excessive.

    I definitely recommend the Broadview edition. I loved the lively introduction, with its infectious enthusiasm and deep scholarship.

  • Leave a Reply

    * Required
    ** Your Email is never shared