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The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox

The Female Quixote (1752)

by Charlotte Lennox

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5501018,183 (3.53)1 / 87

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
For its time, this is a pretty readable and engaging bit of writing that isn’t overlong and makes clever use of wry humour as it takes a dig at romance novels and their effect on particularly feminine fantasies. It’s kind of like an 18th century version of Cold Comfort Farm.

Arabella is the protagonist who falls under the spell of the masses of romantic literature she plunders from her father’s library. In this, Lennox was parodying the spell that Don Quixote falls under from books of chivalry that turn his brain.

For me, the ludicrous situations that Arabella ends up in as a result of her delusions were as humorous as that of the Don. Through this, Lennox is also able to comment on the influence of literature, just as Cervantes was able to comment on the social mores of his day.

For this, Lennox deserves (and received at the time) great credit, particularly as the 18th century wasn’t the easiest period of literary history for a woman to get herself published.

The plot is well complicated by the fact that, on his deathbed, Arabella’s father insists that the only way to come into her full inheritance is to marry her stable, well balanced and affectionate cousin Glanville. However, his normality is a far cry from her fantasies and this provides for many of the crises throughout the novel.

It all ends reasonably enough though with Arabella regaining her senses and predictably marrying her suitor, but it’s a fairly engaging ride along the way. ( )
  arukiyomi | Dec 23, 2015 |
The plot is well summarized in other reviews here. I would add that overall this was entertaining, though the pacing was a bit odd. There was a section in book two with interminable examples of what the French heroines would do and the ending conversion was too quick, but for pure enjoyment, in some ways this was better than Don Quixote because fewer people got hurt and the bathroom humor was absent. Its overall quality and scope does not match Don Quixote, as its intent was smaller. The best part of the book happened in Arabella's seclusion in the country.

As a whole this was fairly simple book, but for a novel from the 1700's I was impressed. It comments that there is a distinction between absurd novels and good fiction. The modern challenge then is for an individual reader to find the "good" fiction, and we have quite a bit more to sort through than Arabella did! An additional truth applicable to modern life is that one cannot disappear from the world, it continually intrudes. I would recommend this book to those who enjoyed Don Quixote or have an interest in the phenomenon of reclusiveness / separation from community life. ( )
  karmiel | Aug 11, 2015 |
A deliciously funny mediation on the potentially damaging effects of taking novel romances too seriously, published in 1750 - an important topic even today, as far too many of us search in vain for Mr. Rochester, Heathcliff or any number of tall, dark and handsome Mills and Boon heroes. Apart from the fact that Lennox, who was encouraged by Dr. Johnson and Richardson, is an excellent writer, this is a very interesting book from the point of view of the history of women, showing the dangers of the lack of activities for intelligent women. The delightful heroine, Arabella, who as Margaret Anne Doody points out in her excellent and thought-provoking introduction, actually manages to exert her will very successfully while she is under the influence of French romances, eventually comes to accept her cousin's proposal, and despite his faithfulness through most embarrassing scenes, we cannot help but feel that her future life will be diminished. So - perhaps it is better to live in the imagination, after all! ( )
  Roseredlee | Jun 24, 2015 |
This book was a struggle to get through. While I loved the writing, pretty much everything else about the book I disliked, a lot. I get it was a satire, but the book never clicked right with me. Arabella is a very disagreeable character, and because she's the main book, it made me dislike the book even more.

I found it to be very repetitive, after a while even the small amount of humour I got from Arabella's antics got boring, not to mention gave me the urge to give her a smack upside the head. I didn't like the way it ended either, for a book that took it's time to give the story, the ending felt rushed and it didn't seem to fit with the rest of the story.

Like with many books from this time, I do like the intimate feeling the book has with the reader. The author addresses the reader, so it has a different feel to it, when it's written this way. I can't explain it, but I just love when the book is written like this. The writing was lovely, it was a bit off putting having random capitalized letters in the middle of sentences, but it was kept close to its original form, and although it took some time to get use to, I eventually forgot about it.

Overall, it wasn't the best read, while I loved the writing, the rest of the book was just a bit of a dud.

Also found on my book review blog Jules Book Reviews - The Female Quixote: or The Adventures of Arabella ( )
  bookwormjules | Dec 1, 2013 |
This novel was written in the 1750s and is a satire of Don Quixote. The main character, Arabella, is a beautiful, charming, wealthy woman who unfortunately grows up very isolated and therefore reads too many French historical romances about ancient Greece and Rome which she believes in completely. This leads to many humorous situations as she is courted by her cousin who her father intends for her to marry. I really enjoyed the first third of the book, but after a while the humor started to be the same over and over and got a little old. All the men in the book think she's crazy but don't care because she's beautiful and wealthy. I think this is worth reading, especially as an example of women writing in the 1700s. It's genuinely funny and entertaining. It was also obviously an example to Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, a book I love. ( )
  japaul22 | Oct 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Upon the whole, I do very earnestly recommend it, as a most extraordinary and most excellent Performance.

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charlotte Lennoxprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dalziel, MargaretEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
The Female Quixote parodies the ideas and themes in Cervantes' 17th-century novel Don Quixote. Critics mark Charlotte Lennox’s work as one of the defining novels of the 18th century, and one of the first novels by an American-born woman.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192835726, Paperback)

The Female Quixote, a vivacious and ironical novel parodying the style of Cervantes, portrays Arabella, the beautiful daughter of a marquis, whose passion for reading romances colors her approach to her own life and causes many comical and melodramatic misunderstandings among her relatives and admirers. Both Joseph Fielding and Samuel Johnson greatly admired Lennox, and this novel established her as one of the most successful practitioners of the "Novel of Sentiment."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:11 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Beautiful and independent, Arabella has been brought up in rural seclusion by her widowed father. Devoted to reading French romances, the sheltered young woman imagines all sorts of misadventures that can befall a heroine such as herself. As she makes forays into fashionable society in Bath and London, many scrapes and mortifications ensue - all men seem like predators wishing to ravish her, she mistakes a cross-dressing prostitute for a distressed gentlewoman, and she risks her life by throwing herself into the Thames to avoid a potential seducer. Can Arabella be cured of her romantic delusions? An immediate success when it first appeared in 1752, The Female Quixote is a wonderfully high-spirited parody of the style of Cervantes, and a telling and comic depiction of eighteenth-century English society.… (more)

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