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Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 6, Number 2 (June 2008) : 443--457
Narratives and Counter-Narratives -- Quixotic Hermeneutics in Eighteenth Century England
Charlotte Lennox, The Female Quixote
Anna Uddén
Rubric A: Topoi



At the time of publication, The Female Quixote (1752) by Charlotte Lennox was received on the terms announced by its title: as a Cervantine, parodic novel. Modern critics read it either as a reflection of the historical forces that restricted writers at that time, or as a failed Cervantine novel. Read as a true inheritor of Cervantine narrative strategies, The Female Quixote is a ďmetarepresentationĒ that highlights the creative agency of its source, inviting readers to a hermeneutic game. In contrast to modern accounts of the novel that focus on the historical author and her relationship with Samuel Johnson, to whom parts of the novel have been attributed, I argue that the novel parodies Johnsonís style and literary norms. Through an investigation of the novelís interpretive history, the essay demonstrate that a novelís point, if a metafictive one, may be lost if we enter through a historical anteroom of little relevance to its concern.

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