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Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 10 Sep 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (10 Sept. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192834592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192834591
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 2 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,418,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Roxana is possibly Defoe's most fascinating story-teller and this, one of his most intriguing stories."--The Daily Telegraph"Excellent introduction by John Mullan; wisely selected bibliography; full notes."--Robert C. Steensma, University of Utah"The World's Classics edition of 'Roxana' is an attractive volume with a nice picture on the cover, and it seems to have been well edited by John Mullan. I especially like the map of Defoe's London. Unfortunately, I find 'Roxana' far less interesting that 'Robinson Crusoe' and 'Moll Flanders'.--Peter Wirth, University of Mississippi"Excellent introduction by John Mullan."--Mary Paynter, Edgewood College"The text seems beautifully done - striking cover, easy-to-read structure, and helpful intro and scholarship."--W.H. Reames, Jr., Erskine College"A beautiful edition, a helpful introduction."--Archibald G. Coolidge, Jr., University of Iowa"This is an excellent series and one of the best available editions of Defoe's last work. The introduction is extensive and helpful, a great teaching aid. Thank you for keeping this neglected classic available for us."--Carl Kremer, William Woods University"Excellent notes and introductions - more useful in the classroom than any other paperback edition."--Allen Michie, Coastal Carolina University

From the Back Cover

Almost three hundred years after its first publication, Roxana continues to challenge readers, who, though compelled by Roxana's story, are often baffled by her complex relationships to her children, her fortune, and her vices. As one of Daniel Defoe's four major fictions, Roxana has long been understood as central to the history of the novel, and provides readers with Defoe's sharpest and most specific commentary on the complexities of life in seventeenth-century London. This edition offers a range of contemporary documents that will help readers understand the struggles of Roxana's life as series of metaphoric engagements with pressing issues of her time. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Roxana is the last of Defoe's novels (1724). Its full title contains a whole programme of extraordinary adventures. The romantic, exotic Mademoiselle de Beleau - for Roxana is only a nickname of the heroin - experiences all the aspects of eighteenth century life. After her first bankrupt husband abandoned her penniless with her children to care for, Roxana tries to mend her fortune, and little by little she climbs up the social ladder until she decides to fulfil her supreme ambition: being the mistress of the King... Roxana goes the way from rags to riches several times, thus leading the readers into all sorts of stations in life. The memoirs of this wicked criminal woman who led a life of scandal and hypocrisy, sometimes verging on madness, have a moral purpose - at least Defoe tells us so ; they are a compelling, moving spiritual autobiography, but at the same time it is an occasion to see eighteenth-century life in very striking and vivid colours. This is why I liked "Roxana" very much. It is also interesting because it contains many ideas and is very modern in a way, eg when Roxana appears as a genuine proto-feminist. This edition is very practical to use because the notes are numerous and relevant, but not "intruding". The introduction also provides interesting perspectives on the significance and the originality of "Roxana". This novel is not so wel-known as "Robinson Crusoe" or "Moll Flanders" but it is worth reading for it's really enjoyable.
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By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 July 2007
Format: Paperback
The itinerary of Daniel Defoe's heroine is absolutely not a common example of life in Paris and London in the 18th century. At that time, only 10 % of the population was older than 30 years and only one in one thousand was rich.
For Roxana, `Poverty was my Snare', `the dreadful Argument of wanting Bread'. And, `Poverty is the strongest Incentive; a Temptation against which no Virtue is powerful enough to stand out.'
What saves Roxana from a certain early death is her beauty, her sex-appeal: `In une Deshabile you charm me a thousand times more.'
With her beauty she amasses a fortune. After being a slave (`comply and live, deny and starve'), she is free (`the sweetest of Miss is Liberty'): `that while a Woman was single, that she had then the full Command of what she had, and the full Direction of what she did.'
She abhors the institution of matrimony and prefers to be a Mistress: `A Wife is treated with Indifference, a Mistress with a strong Passion; a Wife is looked upon as but an Upper-Servant, a Mistress is a Sovereign.'
But what ultimately brings Roxana down is religion and its correlative, remorse: `the Sence of Religion, and Duty to God, all Regard to Virtue and Honour given up ... (I was) no more than a Whore.'
Remorse makes her look after her abandoned children, but this quest turns into a tragedy.

Like `Moll Flanders', this more moralist text constitutes a formidable portrait of the `horrid Complication' to be a woman.

Not to be missed.
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Format: Paperback
I read this having recently enjoyed Moll Flanders. They are very different, Moll's story is something of a bawdy, satirical comedy, whereas Roxana's is a tragic tale. I think that other reviewers have perhaps missed the irony that is inherent in Defoe's work. While presenting these tales of 'fallen' women as confessions of repentence, I think that was something of a cover, without which his novels would have been unacceptable to his contemporary audience. He creates strong, autonomous women, driven by economics. He does not judge them and because of that neither do we. Was he in fact an early feminist? He believed strongly in the education of women and advocated equality in marriage in 'Conjugal Lewdness.' I think Roxana is an extention of those ideas.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A couple of years ago I began concentrating in my reading matter on 'classic' English novels, written anywhere between (roughly) 1700 and 1900, and though I had read both Robinson Crusoe (Oxford World's Classics) and Moll Flanders (English Library), somehow I had not read 'Roxana, The Fortunate Mistress' at the time. And though my memories of 'Robinson Crusoe' and 'Moll Flanders' are perhaps a bit vague by now, I found this novel to be both very alike and yet also very different.

'Roxana', just as 'Robinson Crusoe' and 'Moll Flanders' is a fictitious autobiography by an 'exceptional' character: we all know what befell Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders has, to say the least, an eventful life with lots of ups and as many downs, and so too Roxana. However, this is pretty much where the similarities end. Whereas for instance Robinson Crusoe could be described as 'rational man' overcoming, against all odds, whatever life (or perhaps that should be 'Nature') can throw at him and striving to better himself (both materially and morally), Roxana is quite the opposite: if anything, in countless instances the story of her life confirms over and over again how much she is led by her emotions (pride, vanity, greed, fear, etc.), knows that she does wrong but is unable to stop herself from doing so ('I sinn'd with Open Eyes'), and - looking back upon it at the (open) end of the book - there's not really a sense that Roxana has 'learned' all that much from her vast experience.

And a vast experience it is!
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