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Mary/Maria/Matilda (Penguin Classics) by…

Mary/Maria/Matilda (Penguin Classics) (edition 1993)

by Mary Wollstonecraft

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133190,390 (3.38)3
Title:Mary/Maria/Matilda (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Mary Wollstonecraft
Info:Penguin Books (1993), Reprint, Paperback
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Mary and Maria and Matilda by Mary Wollstonecraft



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"Do all suffer like me; or am I framed so as to be particularly susceptible of misery?"
By sally tarbox on 30 December 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
The introduction to this work notes that 'Mary' "explores the position of an alienated intellectual woman and, in portraying her struggle against the constraints of a claustrophobic feminine world, began a line that would include the more substantial heroines of 'Jane Eyre' and 'Villette'."

I would only give 'Mary' a tentative *2.5, but the reader can certainly see it as a precursor to Bronte's later works of genius. This is a short (60p) story, partly autobiographical, where the independent heroine - after being married off against her will - accompanies her consumptive friend to Portugal. A principled, Christian woman, who delights in helping others, Mary observes life and the people around her. And falls in love for the first time... And as she wretchedly sails for England ""the tempest in her soul rendered every other trifling - it was not the contending elements but herself she feared".
I got into this more as I determinedly kept on with it, but I wouldn't call it reading for pleasure.

'Maria' (or 'The Wrongs of Woman'), written ten years later is a much more accomplished work. Very Gothic/ Romantic, the story opens with our eponymous heroine finding herself incarcerated in a lunatic asylum. The reader soon becomes aware that she is quite sane, and as she converses with her wardress, (and later a male inmate - also wrongfully detained - we come to know the stories of all three. Very much a vehicle for the author to continue the theme of her earlier 'Vindication of the Rights of Woman', we read of corrupt husbands having jurisdiction over their wives' money and automatic custody of their children, while the working-class wardress Jemima, tells of abuse by her employers, the plight of unmarried mothers and the way many are forced into prostitution. The opportunities of women as against those of their male counterparts are vastly worse. Although this story stops at a reasonable point, the appendix explains that the author had plans for further chapters, and gives an outline of the intended plot. A fairly interesting read


"I was a creature cursed and set apart by nature", 18 December 2016

This review is from: Mary Shelley - Mathilda (Paperback)
Although the dark and turbid mindset of the heroine of this tale gives us an impression of the author's own feelings at this time (her son had recently died), as a work of literature I found this terribly over-the-top and melodramatic.
Matilda's mother dies shortly after her birth, and her distraught father goes abroad. For the next sixteen years the girl grows up in the care of a cold-natured aunt until finally, to her joy, her father returns.
(spoiler alert) After a few deliriously happy months in his company, he suddenly and inexplicably changes, becoming harsh and abrupt. When Matilda demands he tell her why, he at last reveals that he is in love with her. And here the whole thing just became ridiculous to me. Both parties decide they must never again meet; her father goes on to commit suicide. Matilda goes off to live in a cottage on a moor, where she adopts a nun's dress and talks interminably about her longing for death, unable to go back into society as "like another Cain, I had a mark set on my forehead to show mankind that there was a barrier between me and them." (Why? She did nothing wrong.)
As a description of profound, illogical depression, it has some merit, but I have to say that I found Matilda an unpleasantly self-obsessed tragedy queen. ( )
  starbox | Jan 2, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Wollstonecraftprimary authorall editionscalculated
Shelley, Marymain authorall editionsconfirmed
Todd, JanetEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This is an omnibus containing works of both Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley.

Do not combine with "Maria or the Wrongs of Woman" or "Mary and The Wrongs of Women"
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This volume contains Mary Wollstonecraft's two novels "Mary, A Fiction" and "Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman" and her daughter (and namesake) Mary Shelley's autobiographical novel "Matilda."
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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