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The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders Unknown Binding – 1950

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B00005VYIN
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Daniel Defoe was a Londoner, born in 1660 at St Giles, Cripplegate, and son of James Foe, a tallow-chandler. He changed his name to Defoe from c. 1695. He was educated for the Presbyterian Ministry at Morton's Academy for Dissenters at Newington Green, but in 1682 he abandoned this plan and became a hosiery merchant in Cornhill. After serving briefly as a soldier in the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion, he became well established as a merchant and travelled widely in England, as well as on the Continent.

Between 1697 and 1701 he served as a secret agent for William III in England and Scotland, and between 1703 and 1714 for Harley and other ministers. During the latter period he also, single-handed, produced the Review, a pro-government newspaper. A prolific and versatile writer he produced some 500 books on a wide variety of topics, including politics, geography, crime, religion, economics, marriage, psychology and superstition. He delighted in role-playing and disguise, a skill he used to great effect as a secret agent, and in his writing he often adopted a pseudonym or another personality for rhetorical impact.

His first extant political tract (against James II) was published in 1688, and in 1701 appeared his satirical poem The True-Born Englishman, which was a bestseller. Two years later he was arrested for The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters, an ironical satire on High Church extremism, committed to Newgate and pilloried. He turned to fiction relatively late in life and in 1719 published his great imaginative work, Robinson Crusoe. This was followed in 1722 by Moll Flanders and A Journal of the Plague Year, and in 1724 by his last novel, Roxana.

His other works include A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain, a guide-book in three volumes (1724-6; abridged Penguin edition, 1965), The Complete English Tradesman (1726), Augusta Triumphans, (1728), A Plan of the English Commerce (1728) and The Complete English Gentleman (not published until 1890). He died on 24 April 1731. Defoe had a great influence on the development of the English novel and many consider him to be the first true novelist.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 28 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
Having avoided watching various TV adaptations and never reading the book before, I was hesitant to read this book. Whilst working abroad the book was a last option on the book shop shelf. I was very much wrong in my assumption regarding the book. It is a marvelous account of live at the rough end during the 17th century. The story moves between London and Virginia and steps from one drama to the next throughout. I was captivated throughout by the trials and tribulations of Moll and her many aborted marriages and criminal capers. I was torn between feeling sympathy for Moll and being incredulous at just how many scrapes one woman could get into and escape from. As stated by others this is also a great account of live during Molls time and also of traditions, morals and customs of the time. I now almost regret not making time for the TV adaptation, although I'm sure it would not have been as good.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By welshgirl on 7 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having heard of this book years ago because of the t.v series I finally got round to reading it and glad I was , it's a wonderful read as it's goes right back the end of the 17th century and shows what life was like for the poor a classic tale of a woman born into poverty and the life of crime shes falls into
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Williams on 15 Jun. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I continued my current re-reading of the classics in Kindle versions with this one, first read 40 years ago, and I was pleased to have my fond memories of it refreshed. One of the earliest British novels, this masquerades as a memoir, with Defoe handling the female perspective of the eponymous heroine just as well as he did Robinson Crusoe. I call her 'heroine' though Moll's adventures as sometime prostitute and recidivist thief would seem to disqualify her from such a status but for her late redemption and reform. In any case, we never think of her as a real villain, rather one who is forced by circumstances to make her way in life the best she can. She does admit to being an easy prey to temptation, and she is her own best apologist. As Moll says herself, her 'wicked' life is a lot more interesting to read than her return to virtue and prosperity. We learn a good deal along the way about the harsh conditions of living in late 17th Century England, and of the brutal treatment wrong-doers might expect, both from the courts and, if they catch you, from the mob. Humour and romance help to alleviate the gloom which, along with Moll's winning narrative, always keep us on her side even while she commits her more outrageous sins.

Reviewer David Williams regularly blogs as Writer in the North.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Pomfrett on 12 July 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I downloaded this book with a very fixed view of what I thought this view would be about- a bit of scandal, a bit of naughtiness and a fair bit of adventure. All three are sort of included in the book, but not as much as the reputation of this novel might have you think, although obviously modern views have probably affected this.

I thought Moll, overall, was a very likeable character and Defoe has written her well. The scenes in prison were well written (which is because of his own experience in the notorious Newgate prison!) and I found that I did sympathise with Moll. However, it can be a difficult and confusing text at points; I got really muddled when one character at one point was called Robin and another Robert... I'm not sure if that's just this free copy or if it's in the original manuscript. The text can also be a bit heavy going too, due to the archaic language used, so it wasn't a book I read when I was tired!

Overall, a good read... just not as scandalous as Defoe might have expected!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had been meaning to read Defoe’s work for many years, but I thought that the language may make it a laborious read- it isn’t as straightforward as it could be! The publication of Moll Flanders predates the standardisation of the English language and therefore the author employs some colourful spellings.

All this aside, it turned out to be a far more fluid read than I had anticipated. Despite a few references to historic venues and activities - which are usually explained in the notes - the context makes it fairly obvious what is happening.

One aspect of the novel that is slightly confusing, is that Defoe omits quotation marks or any consistent punctuation. Throughout the story, direct speech is indicated by ‘says I’ or ‘said he’ - given that most of the characters are unnamed, this peculiarity can be confusing at times.

Set in what was an undeniably patriarchal society, the story gives a great insight into what could happen to a woman who fell upon hard times in the 17th century. Moll Flanders is forced to use all her attributes, both sexually and intellectually to ensure her survival.

There is nonetheless a feminist theme that continues throughout. For example, most - if not all - of the male characters go unnamed and are rarely more than secondary roles; they are recruited, seduced or outright conned by Moll Flanders. Even the ‘genuine’ relationships she has in the story see her as the more dominant partner and she is very much the helpmate to her final husband. The expectation of women of the period to remain abstain from sex before marriage, whilst remaining ‘fair game’ for married men is an interesting hypocrisy.
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