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Moll Flanders: The Fortunes and Misfortunes…

Moll Flanders: The Fortunes and Misfortunes (1722)

by Daniel Defoe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,74182739 (3.51)317
  1. 40
    Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (roby72)
  2. 31
    Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (flissp, Booksloth)
  3. 20
    Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (joririchardson)
    joririchardson: Both books are the tales of unscrupulous women doing whatever they can to succeed.
  4. 10
    The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates (EerierIdyllMeme)
    EerierIdyllMeme: Similar themes in very different societies.

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English (75)  French (2)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Piratical (1)  Spanish (1)  All (82)
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I am sometimes afraid that we will have nothing to say to each other at our reader discussion groups. Hah! We talked for over an hour and a half about this picaresque classic. How much was to be considered 'true', considering that it was supposedly a memoir of a repentant woman? How could she say so little about her children? Did she exploit her sexuality or just make the best of the society? She confessed to liking the thrill of theft even after she no longer needed more money, trimmed her stories to her circumstances and her audience, barely mentioned the hardships of crossing the Atlantic (I wonder if Defoe ever did?), learned to make and manage money, and in general navigated a society that was not kind to women without status and means. Was Defoe as tuned in to the hardships of women as this book suggests? Or was he more interested in writing a sly, picaresque adventure with the allure of a female protagonist? Did we believe the 'woman's voice'?

Defoe shows us the society of the time, the narrow path between servant and master class in the late 17th century in an urbanizing country as well as a new world. The book is filled with incident - in fact, when Moll has achieved, however temporarily, a quiet life, we hear nothing about it except how it ends. Moll ('not my real name') tells us at the beginning that she ends up in London, secure, married, content, mature, repentant of her sinful life. So the traditional suspense is absent - it was all about how it happened. But it was fun to read, watching her journey and learning about the times. ( )
1 vote ffortsa | Feb 13, 2018 |
Moll Flanders is a strange book. It's a cautionary tale, but it also feels like a sermon on promiscuity and greed. The book follows the life of Moll Flanders from her infancy, being born to a criminal in prison, all the way through her life which also ends in crime.

She grows into a beautiful woman and ends up marrying one man after another. Her horrible circumstances move her from one bad situation to another. One husband dies, another ditches her, and another turns out to be her half-brother! I enjoyed the first half much more than the second. The story’s moralistic tone echoes that in the author’s other famous work, Robinson Crusoe. ( )
  bookworm12 | Apr 20, 2017 |
“If a young women once thinks herself handsome, she never doubts the truth of any man that tells her he is in love with her; for if she believes herself charming charming enough to captive him, 'tis natural to expect the effects of it.”

The full title of this classic novel is 'The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders' and this in many respects an apt summary of this book. It tells the life story of the titular character.

Moll Flanders was born in Newgate Prison, London, the daughter of a convicted felon who is subsequently transported to America shortly after Moll's birth. Moll is initially brought up by the state and later taken by benefactors. She grows up to be a beautiful woman determined to be someone other than a servant. This she attempts to do by marrying a variety of wealthy man, one of whom she later learns to her horror after bearing him several children, is actually her half-brother. As various marriages fail for various reasons, her fear of poverty leads her to commit many forms of theft. This way of life she later finds impossible to give up so that even when she became relatively wealthy, she continued stealing.

Through a variety of guises and some quick thinking Moll manages to evade prison for many years, unlike a number of her accomplices who are caught then hung or transported to the colonies, until she became the richest thief in London. Perhaps inevitably, she was finally arrested and taken to Newgate Prison whereupon she is sentenced to transportation to the American colonies. In prison Moll chances upon her most recent living husband, himself a highwayman awaiting sentencing. Whereupon both are transported to Virginia before moving on to Maryland where they become successful plantation owners in their own right.

At the age of almost seventy, Moll returned to London with her husband, where they planned to live out their lives in repentance for their past crimes.

There are several themes that run through this book but perhaps the most prominent one is Greed. The author seems to take great efforts to paint Moll as covetous. Moll sees people in particular her husbands as commodities — they appear little more than business transactions. Then when here first husband dies she seems happy to abandon her children to the care of their paternal grandparents. Then later in life even when she becomes relatively wealthy as a thief she is unable to forsake her criminal ways despite the main initial driving force, notably poverty, no longer applies. She continually raises the financial target where she states she will go on the straight and narrow.

After her arrest repentance then becomes a major theme but even here Defoe seems to aim to paint Moll in a poor light. She repents about not giving up her criminal ways earlier rather than than the actual crimes themselves. She never seems to feel sorry for the people that she wronged.

Now initially I must admit that I found the early years of Moll's life rather tedious and I was tempted on more than one occasion to throw in the towel. However, I persevered and as she re-counted her criminal career I found it much more entertaining. On the whole I found this a little laborious but ultimately am pleased that I managed to finish it but may leave it a while before I challenge another classic. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Apr 18, 2017 |
Story has sad, but honest beginning which moves into Moll's willing seduction by the elder son of her kind and generous patrons.

Character has little to recommend and plot quickly becomes repetitive, tedious, and too boring to continue... ( )
  m.belljackson | Mar 13, 2017 |
This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted
at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.tumblr.com by express permission of this reviewer
Title: Moll Flanders Series: ----- Author: Daniel Defoe Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Genre: Classic Pages: 337 Synopsis: The Life and Adventures in Crime of Moll Flanders. As told by Moll Flanders after she was exiled to America, made her fortune and came back to England as a rich socialite. My Thoughts: I can see why this was on the banned books list. Seduction of the innocent [Moll], crime sprees, incest and bigamy on a grand scale. Now, as Moll writes, she is supposedly repented from her former life and is writing these memoirs as a warning to others. However, that is a load of crock. Moll is proud of what she has done, the stealing, the lying, the whoring, all of it. Every line written, every word used reflects Moll's true attitude. Nothing was ever graphic but there was never any doubt of the acts that Moll committed. Defoe does a great job with his writing and I enjoyed this story, even as the story is not uplifting, inspiring or in anywise about anything good. " ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (173 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Defoe, DanielAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fragonard, Jean-HonoréCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leishman, VirginiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merlington, LauralNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miers, Earl SchenckIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porter, DavinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rexroth, KennethAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schwob, MarcelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seidel, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My true name is so well known in the records or registers at Newgate, and in the Old Bailey, and there are some things of such consquence still depending there, relating to my particular conduct, that it is not to be expected I should set my name or the account of my family to this work; perhaps after my death it may be better known; at present it would not be proper, no, not though a general pardon should be issued, even without exception of persons or crimes.
So certainly does interest banish all manner of affection, and so naturally do men give up honour and justice, humanity, and even Christianity, to secure themselves.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140433139, Paperback)

The recent adaptation of Moll Flanders for Masterpiece Theater is a book-lover's dream: the dialogue and scene arrangement are close enough to allow the viewer to follow along in the book. The liberties taken with the tale are few (some years of childhood between the gypsies and the wealthy family are elided; Moll is Moll throughout the tale, rather than Mrs. Betty; Robert becomes Rowland, etc.) and the sets avoid the careless anachronism of the movie version released earlier this year.

The breasts, raised skirts, tumbling hair and heavy breathing on the small screen might catch you by surprise if you don't read the book carefully (as might Moll's abandonment of her children on more than one occasion). Unlike his near-contemporary John Cleland (_Fanny Hill_), Defoe was trying to keep out of jail, and so didn't dwell on the details of "correspondence" between Moll and her varied lovers. But on the page and on the screen, Moll comes across quite clearly as a woman who might bend, but refuses to break, and who is intent on having as good a life as she can get.

E. M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel considers Moll and her creator's art in some detail. While he finds much to criticize in Defoe's ability to plot (where did those last two children go, anyway?), he is as besotted with Moll as I am. Immoral? Sure -- but immortal, and never, ever dull. We hope at least a few of the viewers of the recent adaptation take a couple hours to discover the original, inimitable Moll Flanders.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:12 -0400)

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Defoe's eighteenth-century picaresque novel of a woman's eventual escape from the life of immorality and wickedness imposed on her by society since her birth.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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