5 min read
As I read through the entries, I was struck by how many of the titles alluded to other countries, international travel, and translation. I took note of sixteen titles which blatantly mentioned countries or regions outside of England or languages other than English. For the most part, these fell within two narrative categories: stories about an English person traveling to an underdeveloped or unfamiliar region as in:
1778: 7 - ANON, THE TRAVELS OF HILDEBRAND BOWMAN, ESQUIRE, INTO CARNOVIRRIA, TAUPINIERA, OLFACTARIA, AND AUDINANTE, IN NEW ZEALAND. IN THE ISLAND OF BOHMOMMICA, AND IN THE POWERFUL KINGDOM OF LUXO-VOLUPTO, ON THE GREAT SOUTHERN CONTINENT. WRITTEN BY HIMSELF; WHO WENT ON SHORE IN THE ADVENTURE’S LARGE CUTTER AT QUEEN CHARLOTTE’S SOUND NEW ZEALAND, THE FATAL 17TH OF DECEMBER 1773, AND ESCAPED BEING CUT OFF, AND DEVOURED, WITH THE REST OF THE BOAT’S CREW, BY HAPPENING TO BE A-SHOOTING IN THE WOODS; WHERE HE WAS AFTERWARDS, UNFORTUNATELY LEFT BEHIND BY THE ADVENTURE)
1778: 8 - ANON, A TRIP TO MELASGE; OR, CONCISE INSTRUCTIONS TO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN ENTERING INTO LIFE WITH HIS OBSERVATIONS ON THE GENIUS, MANNERS, TON, OPINIONS, PHILOSOPHY, AND MORALS, OF THE MELASGENS
also published as THE SENTIMENTAL TRAVELLER, OR A DESCRIPTIVE TOUR THROUGH LIFE, FIGURATIVELY AS A TRIP TO MELASGE, IN WHICH IS INCLUDED THE ADVENTURES OF A GENTLEMAN IN THE EAST-INDIES: THE WHOLE FORMING A SYSTEM OF EDUCATION WITH INSTRUCTIONS TO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN, ENTERING INTO LIFE. IN TWO VOLUMES.
1780: 6 - ANON, THE INDIAN ADVENTURER; OR THE HISTORY OF MR. VANNECK, A NOVEL, FOUNDED ON FACTS
...or stories set in a more “developed” country such as Germany or France (I got a feeling from this that lots of English were Francophiles) as in:
1779: 10 GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von; MALTHUS, Daniel or GRAVES, Richard? (trans.)., THE SORROWS OF WERTER: A GERMAN STORY
1779: 16 - PIDANSAT DE MAIROBERT, Mathieu-Francois, LETTERS TO AND FROM THE COUNTESS DU BARRY, THE LAST MISTRESS OF LEWIS XV, OF FRANCE; CONTAINING HER CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE PRINCES OF THE BLOOD, MINISTERS OF STATE, AND OTHERS: INCLUDING THE HISTORY OF THAT FAVOURITE, AND SEVERAL CURIOUS ANECDOTES OF THE COURT OF VERSAILLES DURING THE LAST YEARS OF THAT REIGN. WITH EXPLANATORY NOTES. TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH.
1780: 22 - PORNEY, Mr. (trans.), A NEW AND COMPLETE COLLECTION OF INTERESTING ROMANCES AND NOVELS; TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY MR. PORNEY, TEACHER OF THE FRENCH LANGUAGE AT RICHMOND, SURRY, DESIGNED FOR INSTRUCTION AS WELL AS ENTERTAINMENT, BEING CALCULATED TO CONVEY A GENERAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD; AND CONSISTING OF THE MOST VALUABLE AND IMPORTANT ROMANCES, NOVELS, FABLES, ALLEGORIES, MEMOIRS, ADVENTURES, HISTORIES, ANECDOTES, &C. NOT TO BE FOUND IN ANY OTHER WORK WHATEVER IN ENGLISH. EMBELLISHED WITH AN ELEGANT SET OF COPPER-PLATE PRINTS. DESIGNED BY THE CELEBRATED MR. DODD AND THE INGENIOUS MR. DIGHTON, AND ENGRAVED IN A SUPERIOR STYLE OF EXCELLENCE BY THOSE EMINENT ARTISTS, MESSRS. WELLS, HOW, AND MEARS - THE IMPRESSIONS OF WHICH BEING ALL EXCEEDINGLY FINE, AND EXECUTED IN THE BEST MANNER ON FRENCH PAPER[^1].
Because the novel was increasingly becoming a literary form that belonged to the growing middle class who couldn’t afford to travel abroad, it makes sense that distant lands would be emphasized. I imagine it provided for a kind of vicarious exploration for those who could afford to rent a book but not a boat.
[^1]This one is my favorite. I get the feeling that lots of English folks were pretty Francophilic.
In addition to the digital image of the 1779 edition of Evelina, I chose to take a closer look at The Travels of Hildebrand Bowman (1778), A trip to Melasge (1778), and A New and Complete Collection of Interesting Romances and Novels (translated from the French). In so doing, I noticed that something about Evelina that I thought was pretty weird actually seemed to be common: the preface directed at literary critics. Hildebrand Brown and A Trip to Melasge also included very similar dedications, in which the authors sucked up to the critics big time. Hildebrand Brown goes so far as to call them “the best judges of the veracity” of literary works. At the end of each preface, the books invariably conclude with
##Your most devoted,
Although today most authors prefer to write without thinking about the critics, the amount of ass-kissing these authors did for them shows what a force popular criticism was in the London literary scene.
Artemis’s term clusters allowed me to see that the novel was highly associated with youth in the late 18th century. “Young” appears under “Epistolary Novels” and “History” along with “Young Lady” under “Lady.” We can also see, using Artemis’s term frequency tool, that use of “young” and “youth” became increasingly popular between 1770 and 1800 and, by the last few years of that period, was being used in between 200 and 300 works per year. This reminds me of our protagonist Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey and the popular cliche of the nerdy kid (who we probably all were) who constantly devours novels. Perhaps this association forbade the novel from gaining literary legitimacy on par with other forms for so long; it was a medium for children.