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Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress (1724)

by Daniel Defoe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1582114,339 (3.3)60
Roxana (1724), Defoe's last and darkest novel, is the autobiography of a woman who has traded her virtue, at first for survival, and then for fame and fortune. Its narrator tells the story of her own `wicked' life as the mistress of rich and powerful men. A resourceful adventuress, she is alsoan unforgiving analyst of her own susceptibilities, who tells us of the price she pays for her successes. Endowed with many seductive skills, she is herself seduced: by money, by dreams of rank, and by the illusion that she can escape her own past. Unlike Defoe's other penitent anti-heroes, however,she fails to triumph over these weaknesses.The novel's drama lies not only in the heroine's `vast variety of fortunes', but in her attempts to understand the sometimes bitter lessons of her life as a `Fortunate Mistress'. Defoe's achievement was to invent, in `Roxana', a gripping story-teller as well as a gripping story.This edition uses the rare first edition text, with a new introduction, detailed notes, textual history, and a map.… (more)
  1. 00
    Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (Sarahursula)
    Sarahursula: Basically an undapted Roxana - but with better costumes and interior decoration and a good dose of Gone With the Wind and much much longer. And not forgetting Bruce!
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» See also 60 mentions

English (20)  Italian (1)  All languages (21)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Defoe ugye a Robinsonban megírta a protestáns munkamorál himnuszát, a csodát, ahogy a keresztény fehér ember a semmibe kivetve is képes a két kezével újrateremteni a civilizációt. Hajlamos vagyok azt gondolni, hogy ez a kötet ennek női párdarabja. Mert amikor hősnőnket öt gyerekkel a nyakán otthagyja férje, az társadalmi értelemben ugyanolyan lakatlan sziget volt a XVIII. századi Angliában, ugyanolyan reménytelen sors, amiből szinte lehetetlen kikászálódni. Elbeszélőnk azonban vérbeli üzleti talentumként reagál a helyzetre, és áruba bocsátja az egyetlen dolgot, ami maradt neki: a testét. És láss csodát, sikert sikerre halmoz ezen a piacon. Nehéz nem észrevenni, hogy Defoe tulajdonképpen csodálja saját elbeszélője ezirányú tehetségét, oldalakon keresztül képes kéjelegve sorolni mindazt az anyagi hasznot, amit hölgyünk kiharcol magának - ennyi meg ennyi font, ennyi meg ennyi aranypistol, kamatra kihelyezett összegek, hogy az ékszerről meg az ezüstneműről ne is beszéljünk. Az ember meg csak ámul és bámul, mert ha ez a piaci szegmens ilyen haszonnal kecsegtet, akkor szinte kedvünk támad ott szerencsét próbálni.

Na de itt jön az ambivalencia. Mert ugye Defoe hívő keresztényként azt is tudja, hogy a házasságon kívüli szex (pláne ha a nő műveli) egyben halálos bűn is, nota bene ha egy kurvát teszünk meg főszereplőnknek, akkor azt is éreztetnünk kell az olvasóval, hogy a bűn végső soron mindig elnyeri büntetését. Így hát a szerző szerét ejti, hogy szereplője időnként lamentáljon egyet-kettőt bűnei nagyságán, és gondoskodik arról, hogy Roxána ne élvezhesse ki azok gyümölcsét - magyarán miután elér sikerei csúcsára, letaszajtja őt a mélybe*. Ebből pedig a legbutább olvasó is megértheti, hogy hiába utal minden az ellenkezőjére, a prostitúció rossz, ééértem?

Ugye jó háromszáz éves szövegről beszélünk, szóval mai szemmel nézve nem igazán tűnik regénynek. Sokkal inkább erkölcsi példabeszéd a műfaja, annak viszont enyhén erőltetett. Nem lehet persze eleget méltatni Defoe-t, amiért felhívja a figyelmet a női kiszolgáltatottságra, de bevallom, ezt a sok indokolatlan moralizálást, a vontatott konfliktusleírásokat és kommentárokat én már nehezen tudtam tolerálni. Rendkívül érdekes szöveg a maga nemében, de képtelen voltam nem unatkozni rajta.

* Az 1724-es első kiadásban ezt az egész bukás-dolgot Defoe lerendezte egyetlen záróbekezdésben. Aztán érezte, hogy ez nem lesz jó így, úgyhogy a következő kiadásban kifejtette bővebben - de ezzel sem tudott meggyőzni. ( )
  Kuszma | Jul 2, 2022 |
Beautifully troubled book on the heart of human fallibility and vice. ( )
  RupertOwen | Apr 27, 2021 |
In many ways this is like Moll Flanders and is typical of the 18th Century in the decadence of the aristocracy and the rise of the middle class based on trade and individual effort. Roxanna is the name the heroine takes to perform in her Turkish outfit which only occurs once in the story, but the reputation lingers. We never discover her true name, although the suggestion is that it is Susan, as this is the name of one of her five children.

Like Moll Flanders she acquires her wealth though men, but unlike Moll she does not marry all of them, preferring to maintain her independence as a mistress. After suffering poverty, you can understand her need for security and control of her own wealth. This has its own problems trying to preserve her reputation and ensure the resulting children are taken care of, children that one day will return to make life difficult for her.

Her liaisons include a jeweller, a banker and there is a suggestion that she was mistress to the king of France. She therefore travels not only in England, but France and the Netherlands. It is also interesting to see the different religions represented, at one point she is accused of theft by a Jew, and she represents herself as a Quaker after being befriended by one of their members, before returning to her old ways.

Amy her maid is an interesting character as she not only aids her mistress in her endeavours, in the end she suffers for it. The reader can not help thinking Amy is used very badly by her mistress, being drawn into her seedy world, without any of the real benefits.

Most people will find 18th century novels too long and drawn out with insufficient pace for a modern audience, but they did reflect the changing times in what was a tumultuous century. ( )
  TraceyMadeley | Apr 20, 2021 |
A rollicking read from beginning to end, and a brilliant satire. What a character Defoe created in Roxana! ( )
  JBD1 | Sep 19, 2020 |
Another book from the 1001-list read (or rather, listened to).
It seems, that I'm not so very fond of books like these. In itself it is interesting to learn how things went in these days, when a woman comes to be alone after her husband leaves her.

I am, though, not very fond of the story of her life. Going from man to man, town to town, giving birth to one child after another. I'm not so interested in the kind of dresses the main character wears, or how much income she has (I have no idea what a pistol (?) is worth, or the other measures of money). What I miss in this part, is a translation of these amounts or concepts of former (foreign) currency. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Feb 27, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (74 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Defoe, Danielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Biagi, GuidoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blewett, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borgese, Giuseppe AntonioContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dugo, AndréIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jaatinen, KaarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Polderman, JeanneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sorani, AldoContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I was born, as my Friends told me, at the city of Poictiers, in the Province, or County of Poictou, in France, from whence I was brought to England by my Parents, who fled for their Religion about the year 1683, when the Protestants were Banish'd from France by the Cruelty of their Persecutors.
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Roxana (1724), Defoe's last and darkest novel, is the autobiography of a woman who has traded her virtue, at first for survival, and then for fame and fortune. Its narrator tells the story of her own `wicked' life as the mistress of rich and powerful men. A resourceful adventuress, she is alsoan unforgiving analyst of her own susceptibilities, who tells us of the price she pays for her successes. Endowed with many seductive skills, she is herself seduced: by money, by dreams of rank, and by the illusion that she can escape her own past. Unlike Defoe's other penitent anti-heroes, however,she fails to triumph over these weaknesses.The novel's drama lies not only in the heroine's `vast variety of fortunes', but in her attempts to understand the sometimes bitter lessons of her life as a `Fortunate Mistress'. Defoe's achievement was to invent, in `Roxana', a gripping story-teller as well as a gripping story.This edition uses the rare first edition text, with a new introduction, detailed notes, textual history, and a map.

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