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Belinda (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 29 Apr 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Paperback, 29 Apr 1999
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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (29 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192837095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192837097
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.3 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,808,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A superbly edited text and an informative introduction."--Gregory Maertz, St. John's University

About the Author

Kathryn Kirkpatrick is Assistant Professor, Department of English, Appalachian State University. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It seems a little bit unfair that Maria Edgeworth's name isn't better known - she's far more readable than any Wollstonecraft treatise. Her 1801 novel "Belinda" is a riot - and a very refreshing counterpoint to the "little piece of ivory" on which Jane Austen was working, in her magical but terribly refined way. Edgeworth's cast of characters is painted on an altogether rougher canvas, and drawn from a very much broader range of `types' of people.

Belinda Portman, one of her "catch-match-maker" aunt's numerous nieces, is sent to London to spend time with Lady Delacour. The aim is to get her married; but the aunt's intended `victims' - being the eligible gentlemen and Belinda herself - have other ideas. The most interesting characters are the wonderfully foolish, but fascinating and witty Lady Delacour; Clarence Hervey - dashing young bachelor living the society life to excess, but capable of so much more if he would only make better use of his time; and Mr Vincent, a wealthy West Indian (see below) who is determined to enjoy all of life, reckless of the consequences. Belinda's contact and her evolving relationship with them forms the backbone of the story.

It's appalling that slavery was so integral to well-off Regency life that it didn't even need to be mentioned. Your wealthy West Indian gentleman (meaning a white or Creole man who lives off the West Indies, rather than a black West Indian) had `negroes', not slaves, on his plantation. He travelled abroad on the security that there would always be `fresh remittances' from the West Indies plantation off which he lived.

Yet Edgeworth did something I have never yet seen in fiction of that period: mixed up white, black and (possibly) mixed race characters in one story.
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This is a great book: all the ingredients of an Austen romance but with lots of adventure, controversy, suspense and scandal thrown in. I might even convince my husband to read it...
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I earlier read Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent (Oxford World's Classics) and greatly enjoyed that. I can say the very same about this lovely novel, though it's a very different kettle of fish.

Belinda Portman is the sole unmarried niece of Mrs. Stanhope who, though not really rich herself, has managed to marry of all her other nieces to rich men. When Belinda is sent to London to spend time with Lady Delacour in order to create plenty of opportunities for her to meet some eligible men, she finds herself in a society completely alien to all she has known before: Lady Delacour turns out to be a sharp-tongued harpy towards her husband but also a bewitching coquette in the presence of other men, first and foremost among them the young Clarence Hervey. And so Belinda finds herself the center of attention in this 'marriage market'. Will she follow Lady Delacour's lead and be 'governed by pride, by sentiment, by whim, by enthusiasm, by passion - by any thing but reason'? Or will she stay true to herself?

I heartily invite you to find out for yourselves, because this is truly a very enjoyable comedy. All the characters are well-drawn, the dialogue is sparkling with wit, and the action is - believe it or not - fast paced. Heartily recommended, definitely for all Austen-lovers. Like an other reviewer said, it's very much like an Austen-novel only wilder and more exuberant.
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Excellent read!
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