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Pandora Press, Mothers of the Novel

Persephone Readers

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Edited: Sep 16, 2008, 11:28pm Top

I thought I'd start this thread here, in the Persephone Room since it's rather quiet and with Pandora Press being a recent discussion in "What Should Persephone Publish Next?". Christiguc provided an excellent and comprehensive list of their titles, a mere 21 in total. (Christina, would you be so kind as to copy that post here? )

There's a very interesting article I found about Dale Spender who wrote the book MOTHERS OF THE NOVEL: 100 Good Women Writers Before Jane Austen published by Pandora Press in the mid-1980's. (I do believe used copies are available through amazon). Spender also has a few other titles that look really interesting, Scribbling Sisters, Life Lines: Australian Women's Letters and Diaries (with Patricia Clark) and Living By the Pen: Early British Women Writers.

I found only 4 Pandoras in my library and tagged them with 'Pandora Press, Mothers of the Novel". I've scanned their covers (as it was the Broadview Literary Texts covers that appeared) and entered in the descriptions.

Which Pandora lurks in your library?

Sep 17, 2008, 6:26am Top

I only have Dale Spender's Mothers of the Novel.

Sep 17, 2008, 12:16pm Top

The only Pandora I own is: Daring to Dream: Utopian Stories by United States Women: 1836-1919 edited by Carol Farley Kessler

Sep 17, 2008, 3:49pm Top

Unfortunately, I don't have any--yet. But, I do have an Amazon gift certificate which can help me fix that situation.

>4 janeajones: janeajones, do you know what other series Pandora Press published? Does your book mention a series (or is it Mothers of the Novel)? These ones look interesting, and if there was another series to help find more interesting titles, I would be very interested!

Sep 17, 2008, 4:42pm Top

christiguc -- the book is in my office -- I'll check tomorrow and let you know.

Sep 18, 2008, 1:07am Top

Thank you Christina, for posting the list!

If this becomes a small passion, perhaps we can complete the book descriptions and proper covers as they are acquired.

Sep 18, 2008, 8:33am Top

I have three of them: Adeline Mowbray by Amelia Opie, The Governess; or, Little Female Academy by Sarah Fielding (who was Henry Fielding's - Tom Jones' author - sister), and The Female Quixote; or the Adventures of Arabella by Charlotte Lennox. The latter is not a Pandora book, though, but an Oxford paperback.

Sep 18, 2008, 3:35pm Top

I don't have any of them, that's interesting. I've been meaning to read Edgeworth for the longest time, though. Funny it doesn't include Aphra Behn, perhaps because she essentially wrote plays ? Has anyone read her ? I'd like to try one of her books, although pre-19th century literature frightens me (says the girl with Vanity Fair and Tom Jones waiting for her on her bedside table, I like challenges, what can I say).

Sep 19, 2008, 7:19am Top

Sibylle, you should give both Vanity Fair and Tom Jones a try. I can guarantee (and I know many others will say the same) that you are in for GREAT entertainment!

Sep 19, 2008, 9:04am Top

>5 christiguc: chrisitiguc, sorry for the delay, yesterday was crazy. The title page of Daring to Dream cites it as one of two companion volumes under the heading of Women's History in Short Stories. The other one is Old Maids: Short Stories by Nineteenth-Century Women Writers by Susan Koppelman.

Sep 19, 2008, 11:31am Top

Sibylle, I had to read Aphra Behn's Oroonoko in college, and that was enough for me.

That said, if anyone finds that any of the novels listed in Christiguc's message #3 are up to Persephone Books standard of unputdownable-ness, please let us know.

Sep 21, 2008, 1:19pm Top

Ortolan, do you work for Persephone??

Sep 21, 2008, 3:01pm Top

Sibylle -- I think Aphra Behn's Oronooko is rather fascinating -- and it's not very long. It's the first novel in English that really portrays a slave as a human being and thus puts the whole issue of slavery into question. Also the shift in narrative voices and even genres throughout the work reveals the kind of experimentation Behn was doing as the whole idea of the novel was developing.

Sep 22, 2008, 11:08am Top

Bleuroses, no, I don't work for Persephone!

Sep 23, 2008, 5:46pm Top

I agree with janeajones. I had to read Oroonoko at least three times as an undergrad (I think Behn was just being rediscovered). In some ways it is very modern that the form is a little vague, is it travelogue, novel, adventure, fiction, biography. It has colonial ideas and a certain romanticization of the native that are jarring in some ways as well.

What always puzzles me about Behn is that she was known as a playwright, and the first to make a living from her plays, so why do universities never seem to teach her plays.

Sep 23, 2008, 8:26pm Top

why do universities never seem to teach her plays

Perhaps - and shamefully so - because she was only a woman?

Sep 24, 2008, 2:15am Top

Oh come on, really ? I don't think that's the case. Perhaps just because her writing isn't good in spite of hers being the first woman writer. Plus, there are a lot of people to study. We study tons of different books at the Sorbonne : a good book's a good book, no matter who wrote it. I'm doing my Master's on Jane Austen and nobody asked me why I didn't choose a man or why I chose a woman for that matter. In the list of books we have to read for a 18th century in literature class, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Eliza Haywood's Eovaai are right there along with Defoe, Johnson and Sterne.

Sep 25, 2008, 1:47pm Top

The funny thing is Sibylle I think her plays are better than Oroonoko. (In that dangerous realm of trying to establish comparative literary merit which is an endlessly shifting sand of taste and interest.) They conform to the devices of the time but she was successful in her own time so I don't think it is because she is a failure. I suspect Oroonoko is popular to teach now because it is problematic and that gives critics lots to write about.

I do think plays generally are not taught as much in literature class - and perhaps they shouldn't be taught so much as watched.

Sep 25, 2008, 2:09pm Top

I really agree with you about plays : it's difficult to read a play, let alone study it. I saw a performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night twice (fell in love with it the first time and couldn't get it out of my mind so I went again) at the Comédie Française years before I discovered I was going to actually study the play in College. I was the only one in class laughing out loud when reading it because I had seen it before and could totally understand its humour. I've just bought King Lear and The Tempest to read for pleasure but I know I only really enjoy plays when seen on stage. I wish I could bring the Comédie Française home, actually :p To this day, Twelfth Night is my favourite Shakespeare and the only one I've seen performed : it's related.

I'll give Aphra Behn a go but will focus on her plays to begin with. Thank you so much for your recommendations !

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