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The Female Quixote (1752)

by Charlotte Lennox

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7281026,137 (3.49)1 / 97
The Female Quixote (1752), a vivacious and ironical novel parodying the style of Cervantes, portrays the beautiful and aristocratic Arabella, whose passion for reading romances leads her into all manner of misunderstandings.Praised by Fielding, Richardson and Samuel Johnson, the book quickly established Charlotte Lennox as a foremost writer of the Novel of Sentiment. With an excellent introduction and full explanatory notes, this edition will be of particular interest to students of women's literature, and of theeighteenth-century novel.… (more)
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» See also 97 mentions

English (9)  Swedish (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Arabella, the heroine of the novel, was brought up by her widowed father in a remote English castle, where she reads many French romance novels, and imagining them to be historically accurate, expects her life to be equally adventurous and romantic. When her father died, he declared that she would lose part of her estate if she did not marry her cousin Glanville. After imagining wild fantasies for herself in the country, she visits Bath and London. Glanville is concerned at her mistaken ideas, but continues to love her, while Sir George Bellmour, his friend, attempts to court her in the same chivalric language and high-flown style as in the novels. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Jan 20, 2022 |
Bother. I was so hoping that this would prove to be a happy discovery. Instead it was repetitive and dull. This is probably due to the difference in publication process. Getting one chapter a week would spread the silliness thinly. But getting it all at once give you cotton candy. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
I can't be the only person who didn't see this book as anti-novel reading! This is one of my favorite books ever and to me it makes a point about the lack of female education at the time (Hey, even the value we place on female education now!) and the way that women were often kept totally separate from 'real life'. Like children being moved from one parent to another (father to husband). Of course, since Arabella knows nothing of the world, and her father is not the involved parent of the year, she's going to latch onto the thing that gives her the most pleasure and a look into romantic relationships and adventure.

It is hilarious how she gets so many things wrong, but it's even more interesting that she has the strength of personality to get people to go along with her. They might think she's loony but even her suitors start to learn to read her gestures and play along with how she wants her life to be. The end is pretty disappointing, but until then, Arabella does shape at least part of her own world, like the queens in the books she loves. It's pretty fantastic, really.

I love seeing the influences this book must have had on Northanger Abbey (I can't imagine it didn't) and even Emma, a bit, as well as some influence on the up and coming gothic genre. I'd give this book more stars if I could. ( )
3 vote puglibrarian | Jul 24, 2019 |
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 |
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.
 

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Charlotte Lennoxprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dalziel, MargaretEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Female Quixote (1752), a vivacious and ironical novel parodying the style of Cervantes, portrays the beautiful and aristocratic Arabella, whose passion for reading romances leads her into all manner of misunderstandings.Praised by Fielding, Richardson and Samuel Johnson, the book quickly established Charlotte Lennox as a foremost writer of the Novel of Sentiment. With an excellent introduction and full explanatory notes, this edition will be of particular interest to students of women's literature, and of theeighteenth-century novel.

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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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