A Literary History of Women's Writing in Britain, 1660-1789 (Hardback)
  • A Literary History of Women's Writing in Britain, 1660-1789 (Hardback)
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A Literary History of Women's Writing in Britain, 1660-1789 (Hardback)

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£105.00
Hardback 548 Pages / Published: 07/09/2006
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Drawing on three decades of feminist scholarship bent on rediscovering lost and abandoned women writers, Susan Staves provides a comprehensive history of women's writing in Britain from the Restoration to the French Revolution. This major work of criticism also offers fresh insights about women's writing in all literary forms, not only fiction, but also poetry, drama, memoir, autobiography, biography, history, essay, translation and the familiar letter. Authors celebrated in their own time and who have been neglected, and those who have been revalued and studied, are given equal attention. The book's organisation by chronology and its attention to history challenge the way we periodise literary history. Each chapter includes a list of key works written in the period covered, as well as a narrative and critical assessment of the works. This magisterial work includes a comprehensive bibliography and list of prevalent editions of the authors discussed.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521858656
Number of pages: 548
Weight: 1005 g
Dimensions: 235 x 162 x 38 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Review of the hardback: 'The decades of expertise evident here in the seemingly effortless syntheses of historical movements, and incisive arguments about a wide spectrum of authors are presented in wonderful prose, like backbone under fine linen. Any serious scholar of early women writers must own this book. As an aid to research it is a treat; as a teaching resource, a trove; as a meditation on what we are all about in our current reading of early women's texts, a challenge.' Chantel Lavoie, Eighteenth-Century Book Reviews Online
Review of the hardback: 'An astute and informed history interested in observing complex patterns of continuity and change, and on occasion, instances of regression ... In its skillful narrative articulations, its inclusiveness, and its attentive close readings, this literary history generously fulfils its stated objective and in the process compliments the intelligence of both eighteenth-century writers and twenty-first-century readers.' April London, Eighteenth-Century Studies
Review of the hardback: 'This is a beautifully produced and immensely valuable work by one of the most learned scholars of eighteenth-century British literature now writing. ... Despite its size, this enjoyable book is a model of careful reading, orderly thinking, and elegant presentation, both a work of interpretation and a useful reference tool. Staves brings texts to light and raises questions about them that will guide future scholarship.' Toni Bowers, Journal of British Studies
Review of the hardback: 'Susan Staves's A Literary History of Women's Writing in Britain, 1660-1789 is a remarkable achievement. For the depth and breadth of her reading alone, the volume deserves a place in the library of all literary scholars working on the history and literature of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.' Frances Ferguson, Modern Philology
Review of the hardback: 'Bringing together a range of familiar and relatively less well-known writers and their historical and biographical details, Staves' perspective reinvigorates our existing understanding of her subjects, while realigning the extent and nature of their contribution to literary history ... Staves's history ... is invaluable not least of all because of her methodology. Staves is interested in the aesthetic merit of the writings of her subjects, an approach which does not involve promoting writers solely in accordance with their feminist credentials.' Anna Fitzer, Women's Writing
Review of the hardback: 'To the vexed question of whether literary historians should make aesthetic judgments Staves answers ... in the affirmative, cogently arguing that moving out of 'hermenutic circle' of literary standards developed in and for a male canon means adapting criteria for aesthetic value, not rejecting them. ... This magisterial book justifies Staves's confidence in the possibility of her enterprise. ... When, as here, the appetite for a wide range of texts is voracious, the historical imagination is generous, and the critical judgment is astute, it is possible to write very good literary history indeed.' Jane Spencer, Romanticism
Review of the hardback: 'Susan Staves's meticulous and encyclopaedic study of women's writing from the Restoration to the outbreak of the French Revolution is something of a paradox. The product of some forty years of research, this literary history is, nonetheless, absolutely of its moment: both a compendious account of the fruits of four decades of feminist scholarship, and a subtly argued manifesto for the future of our field. Students new to the subject are presented with informative and helpfully contextualized readings of a rich array of texts, while even the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable scholars of women's writing are bound to discover works about which they knew little before.' Jennie Batchelor, Notes and Queries
Review of the hardback: 'If ... there has for a couple of decades been a hesitation to attempt women's literary history for the eighteenth century on a grand scale, there has been no lack of excellent, enabling work on individual writers or genres. Nourished by this work, Staves's own depth and breadth of historical scholarship are distilled into insightful generalisations about specific cultural moments ... Staves admirably demonstrates the viability of a feminist criticism which holds that the reputation and ultimate canonical place of eighteenth-century women writers can withstand, even benefit from, a scrutiny of the complete range of their literary expression.' Betty Schellenberg, Eighteenth-Century Fiction
Review of the hardback: '... an indispensable tool. Staves's prose is direct, clear, and engaging enough for students, and her bibliography of secondary sources effectively constitutes a reading list for an eighteenth-century field exam ... Yet her nuanced readings of texts and careful connections between developing women's literary genealogies make the book rewarding for the specialist as well. This literary history is invaluable in its delineation of developing themes and ideas in women's writing over the long eighteenth century.' Kathryn Stong, Women's Studies
Review of the hardback: 'A Literary History of Women's Writing in Britain, 1660-1789 is a tour de force, a comprehensive guide that, just as Staves claims, shifts our focus from writers' lives to their writings, and from current theories to their original context. Although this book is sure to stir debate rather than settle a women's canon, it marks the noble beginning of an overdue process.' Claudia Thomas, Eighteenth-Century Life
Review of the hardback: '... monumental work ...' BARS Bulletin and Review

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