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Exercise 5

3 min read

When I was looking through the collection of novels as a whole, I was mainly searching for some sort of visible change or trend caused by popular and influential novels, primarily Evelina, Tristram Shandy, and Pamela. After all, these are the novels that we’ve studied in a class dedicated to the development and evolution of the novel, so I thought it would be reasonable to assume that novels studied in this class would have a noticeable presence on the European literary sphere as a whole. Since Evelina was published in the year we were supposed to examine carefully, I focused mostly on finding trends that Evelina may have set. Interestingly enough, I had a hard time finding these trends. Between 1776 and 1779, there’s seems to be an overarching trend, which starts before Evelina’s publication and continues a year after. Although there were more novels written about the lives of men than I initially anticipated, the majority of the novels written in this period were written by or written about the lives of women. This trend, of course, cannot be attributed to Evelina’s publication, since it was present in the years prior to 1778. And there is no apparent change to this trend in gender following its publication. It also doesn’t seem to have a palpable change on the titles of these novels. After the success of novels such as Pamela and Evelina, one would assume that other authors would imitate the style of titling the novel starting with the lead woman’s first name. And, although some novels do start the title with the character’s name, with no rank or social title before it, it doesn’t happen frequently enough in which I would feel comfortable calling it a new trend. The titles of the novel do not even appear to shorten after Evelina’s success; one example of this would be the fourth entry in the year 1780, which seems to have about over 300 words in its title. It is also difficult to tell from this collection if Evelina had an effect on the material of the novels published after it, since there is not too much we can gather from the title alone. Mostly, this exercise has left me questioning the power of an individual novel on the literary sphere. In this class and other English classes in college and high school, we study milestone works that are proclaimed to have changed the world of literature as a whole, either shaping certain genres or completing completely new ones. But very rarely do we examine the actual lesser known workers written during that same time period and examine how the novels impacted literature in the short run. It’s easy to study novels such as Pamela and imagine as if its publication caused a sudden landmark in literature. Instead, this exercise showed me, in a way, that even landmark novels might not change the sphere like we may expect. It has left me with a few lingering questions concerning the place of these novels in history. Are these novels shaping the literary sphere around it, but shape this sphere over the course of many years? Or are they simply the most well-known, best written novels that sum up a general shift in literature at the time?


Exercise 5

5 min read

The bibliography speaks not just for the novel but also for the audience (at least from a critic’s perspective) through the CR and MR snippets. Although coming from a very specific voice, it is still very informative for a 21st century reader to see the novel through an 18th century lens. What first stood out to me scrolling through the titles was how the audience of each novel was clearly gendered and most of the novels listed seemed to want to function largely as a moral book or, at least, overly emphasize that it would set an example, or would not demoralize, the young reader (that said, a lot of novels still contained the Robinson Crusoe-esque titles, capitalizing on the novel through the title’s exclamatory mini history summary of the protagonist/plot). What was particularly interesting was that, although there was not a clear minority of female authors, there was a large majority of reviews for novels written by female authors that emphasized that she was writing well above her station as a female. Furthermore, before this class I never realized the prominence of epistolary writing, however as most of the novels we have read so far as well as a large portion of the novels in the bibliographical survey are epistolary novels, I thought this was interesting as a sort of subgenre. I noticed that there were a few novels that had anonymous authors while other novels inserted the author’s name right into the title of the book. This raises the question for me of how often did authors chose to be anonymous or were pen names utilized? From the beginning of my perusal of the novel, Harcourt; a sentimental novel in a series of letters by the authoress of Evelina, the letters were signed by only the men’s name or the salutation was included within the text: “at all events, until you have attained some degree of sprightliness, boast not of a friend in, Augustus Richmond” (23). For the female characters, their salutation, “and if you should ever be tempted to love, think of your friend, Your Harriet” (28), does not include their last name (similar to how Pamela and Evelina signed their letters) and it is preceded by “your” which connotes ownership and subservience in comparison to the solely male name. However, as I continued to flip through the novel the salutations between the genders flipped and it depended on the gender of the sender how the salutations were addressed. The female to female were signed with “you” plus no last name, male to male without salutation with full name, male to female “your” with only last name, and female to male with the full name without any salutations. (I only investigated this trend for the first thirty pages or so). In Louisa Wharton. A story founded on facts: written by herself, in a series of letters to a friend… the title (or title plus the entire summary of the novel) makes up the title page in a Pamela-esque tradition similar to how Richardson laid out a detailed table of contents explaining the main points of each section, the moral lesson of each section seems to not be present in Louisa Wharton. It does, however, also play on the emphasis and appearance that this novel is not based on reality but is reality. The transference of letters within letters appears to be a constant occurrence. In The unfortunate union: or, the test of virtue. A story founded on facts, and calculated to promote the cause of virtue in younger minds. Written by a Lady. What this novel’s “title” does is immediately disclaim its realism and rather accentuates its truth based on reality even having “printed for Richardson and Urquhart” on the title page to emphasize Richardson’s attempt to present his story as real, actual letters. What is further interesting about this novel is how it is “written by a LADY” rather than have the actual author’s name. Why would the editor emphasize the gender of the author? While it does elevate her status somewhat by the emphasis on “LADY”, it also subverts the author’s presence as a person, as an individual without acknowledgement of her name and instead of her gender. The odd novel in my search, Otho and Rutha: a dramatic tale. By Miss Edwards, while not epistolary, was particularly interesting because it listed all the characters by gender in the preface which I had not encountered before in a novel (it seems more of a play characteristic). What was also interesting that this novel also seemed to want to sell the idea that this novel was written by a female as all my previous examples did. The emergence of the female author seems a large selling point at this time period. For the Artemis assignment, I looked through the years 1775-1800 and 1750-1899 (on a side note when I forgot to limit the results to fiction, the majority of books seemed to relating to law, I wonder how other book genres influenced the novel if at all). What was particularly interesting about this search was the dominance of “lady” and “history” in the Term Clusters. For the Term Frequency section, I looked at “fact” and” facts” along with “lady” and “ladies” both of which had an increase in term frequency. These two terms seem to build with the rise of Robinson Crusoe and then of Evelina in the sense of pushing the realism in the novels, emphasizing and selling the idea that this is a “true story” but also emphasizing and selling the idea of a female author. I wonder if it is true that the novels claiming to have female authors actually do similar to the novels claiming to be based on facts, to gain the attention of the female audience.


Exercise 5

3 min read

Many of the novels seem to focus on the subjective world of a single individual. Many of the novels have female main characters, although some focus on a male character. The epistolary form also seems to be popular. Some of the novels state that they are epistolary novels in their title—some will use the word “letters” in their title. One example is in “Letters from Henrietta to Morvina”. Most of the titles tend to less than three or four lines long. While quite a few of the titles tend to include the character’s name (like “Memoirs of the Countess D’Anois”, others are more vague (like “The Sylph” and “The Rival Friends; or, the Noble Recluse”. These latter titles seem a bit more like modern book titles. Some of the novels also emphasize their usefulness for teaching virtue. One thing that interested me is that some of the novel’s were about an upper class person and said so in the title, like the example of Countess D’Anois. Neither Evelina nor Pamela were born into upper class society; so this change was interesting to see. I wonder if there’s a shift in reading about less common people or if it’s still a remnant from before. Evelina’s title take up the majority of the title page, but the letters are large and well-spaced, making it easy to read. The volume and edition number are smaller and more crammed than the title, but still easy to read. The smallest and most crammed words are the publisher information, but those are still easy to read. There is no author information on this page. Here it seems that the title takes up the most importance. “The Sylph” also has a large title and small publisher information, but it also has a quote and an illustration. Here it seems important that the title page is aesthetically pleasing, and the quote must have been chosen to set up or prepare for the novel itself. “Letters from Henrietta” is styled much similarly to “Evelina”. It seems that the aesthetics of the title page might be becoming more important, judging from “The Sylph”. When using ARTEMIS, I decided to look at books from 1770-1800. Both “history” and “epistolary novel” are frequently occurring words, so there seems to be a trend of focusing on an individual’s private life. “Lady” is also a prominent word while “gentleman” is not (although “King” is). This suggests that the novels tend to have female protagonists. “Author” is also a prominent word, but not as prominent as one would expect when one considers that every novel has an author. The word “history” is twice as frequent as “author”. It could be that the word “history” is mentioned more than once in the book, or that quite a few of the authors prefer to remain anonymous. It seems likely to be a combination of both .


Bibliography Overload

The amount of data and information included in this assignment was absolutely massive! Sometimes I felt overwhelmed by all the texts, data, and information provided in Garside’s introduction.

A major trend I noticed in just the bibliography was the way that the title, author, and content of the work appeared to influence the way that critics would read and subsequently review a book. It felt like many of the reviews of novels published anonymously, by women, or containing content that occupied a feminine sphere (such as the memoirs of older women or the histories/letters of younger women) were held to a different standard than those published by men or about men. This is clearly evidenced in the comments on the anonymous “The Wedding Ring; or the History of Miss Sidney”, in which CR refers to something called “…the female library.” Thus, it sort of feels like anything related to the feminine sphere is being relegated or written off as “other” or atypical in some way, which supports Armstrong’s claim that the separation of gender spheres in domestic fiction contributed to the rise of the individual subjectivity. In other words, this “female library” may be abnormal, but it may be on to something, and the critics don’t really know how to handle it.

It’s also worth noting that a work by the famous Voltaire is included in this bibliography, and the comments on his work are particularly of note. In essence, the comments on “Young James Or the Sage and the Atheist” boil down to something along the lines of: “Oh yeah, it’s Voltaire. Of course this is a good book,” whereas many of the other authors discussed in the bibliography are subject to a pretty thorough critique of even the minor characters in their work (like the Captain in Evelina. It appears that at least in the literary/scholarly world, your name can still carry some weight when it comes to critical reception of your early novel.

The five early novels I chose to compare were: Clara Reeve’s The champion of virtue. A Gothic story. By the editor of The Phonix. A translation of Barclay's Argenis, Voltaire’s Young James or the sage and the atheist. An English story. From the French of M. de Voltaire, Louisa Wharton’s Louisa Wharton. A story founded on facts: written by herself, in a series of letters to a friend. Wherein is Displayed Some particular ... and so on, Sutton-Abbey. A novel. In a series of letters, founded on facts, and Evelina.

When comparing these five early novels, the most noticeable difference between Evelina and the other novels I selected was the fact that Evelina was the only one out of the five that did not claim to be fiction or a story in any way on its title page. Young James is a “story”, and so are Louisa Wharton and “The champion of virtue.” Sutton-Abbey is the only one of the five to claim itself as a novel on the title page, but in the preface argues that it was “…not intended for publication.” Whether this claim is merely to convince readers that this is somehow a more authentic narrative or that it really was never meant to be printed lies beyond the scope of the exercise at hand. Regardless, the main conclusion that I drew from this discrepancy is that by not claiming to be a fictionalized story or a novel in any way on the title page, Evelina is actually succeeding the most at being exactly that: a fictionalized story AND a novel. This is evidenced by the generally favorable comments included in the bibliography, which stand in stark contrast to those of Sutton-Abbey, which gets called nothing more than second-rate. So, is the trick to being a popular 18th-century novel to be a “hipster novel”, by keeping silent about your novel-ness and allowing others to marvel at your talents? Maybe.

Moving on to Artemis: Just for funsies, I tried to search the time period 1760-1800 with the “Novel” filter under document type and got no results back. Does that mean Artemis doesn’t recognize any 18th century works as novels? I don’t know the answer. I might have just formatted it wrong, but it’s a question worth investigating in the future.

When I did get some results using the normal search methods, I was fascinated at the results of both data visualization tools. I saw that a spoke in the metaphorical wheel of words and connections was “Author”, but the only names underneath those spokes were female names; actually, “Ladies” was a major subcategory of the spoke “Author”. Again, I think that says a lot about the relationship between the feminine sphere and the rise of the individual subjectivity and its primacy in the early novel, as argued by Armstrong. Another piece of data that supports her claim is the fact that one of the subcategories of “Lady” is “Facts”, suggesting that those two are deeply related in some way.

For my term frequency graph, I plotted a few different terms together and got something pretty neat back. By including “novel”, “story”, “life”, “letters”, and “lady” together on the same graph, it’s easy to see that all of these terms are closely related in some way. All of these words show a pretty steady increase as the 18th century draws to a close, signaling what could be interpreted as the beginning of the rise of the novel as a major player on the literary scene, and that “life” is an essential part of the “story” that “novel”s are trying to tell. Also, more so than any other two terms, “letters” and “lady” follow each other so closely that it’s hard to tell which line is which at some points in the graph. Essentially, this tells us that if there’s going to be the mention of a lady in an early novel, it’s probably because it’s an epistolary novel and a lady is the one writing it. And in this way, we can also speculate that the rise of “lady” and “letters” directly relate to the overall rise of just the novel in general.

Exercise 5: Bibliography

5 min read

Looking at this bibliography is, I think, particularly useful for novels of this time period because titles of novels in the late 18th century told so much about the novel itself. Looking at the titles of contemporary novels wouldn’t be much help in understanding trends; we could observe patterns in the titles themselves, perhaps, but not in the content of the novels. (Besides maybe The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. That fits right in. How about The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; or, The History of a Fat Nerd’s Futile Loves; A Virtuous History Intended to Instruct in Morality and Provide Amusement to the Fair-Sex; Necessary to be Had in All Households.) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? What? 10:04? Huh? These titles only make sense to someone who has read the novel. But the titles alone of these early novels tell us a lot about what they tried to accomplish.

One fairly obvious but interesting thing to note is that we are beginning to see the word “novel” in many of these titles. The novel as a form has been established in a way it hadn’t been in the early part of the century, and novels are now self-aware. They continue to define the genre, but it’s now deliberate, a kind of self-definition rather than experimentation. The influence of Pamela is painfully clear in most of these titles. They usually begin with a short title—Modern Seduction or The Unfortunate Union—followed by a long explanation of that title, one that generally lets the reader know what to expect—Modern Seduction, or Innocence Betrayed: Consisting of Several Histories of the Principal Magdalens, Received into that Charity Since its Establishment. Very Proper to be Read by All Young Persons; as They Exhibit a Faithful Picture of Those Arts Most Fatal to Youth and Innocence; and of Those Miseries that are the Never-Failing Consequences of a Departure from Virtue. By the Author of Lady Louisa Stroud or, The Unfortunate Union: or, the Test of Virtue. A Story Founded on Facts, and Calculated to Promote the Cause of Virtue in Younger Minds. Written by a Lady. We see in these titles continuations of trends we’ve seen in many earlier titles: an insistence on the text’s faithfulness to truth, an assurance that the text promotes virtuous morals, etc. One interesting trend that we haven’t seen is the emphasis that some texts were “Written by a Lady.” I suppose this stems from the idea that ladies are the best models for young women; who better to teach virtue than a lady?

Of course, not everyone was convinced by the titles. A review of The Unfortunate Union read, “There is something so exceedingly disgusting in the exhibition of characters, which have no tints of elegance or virtue… there is something so extremely painful, in seeing such characters employed in harassing, tormenting, and defaming an innocent and gentle spirit—that it is surprising such representations should be thought capable of affording entertainment, or calculated to promote the cause of virtue in young minds.” Pretty harsh, to say the least—and all the criticism is centered around the novel’s inability to teach virtue. By contrast, Evelina’s reviews are glowing—and it’s interesting that the same reviewer writes a lot about Burney’s impressive command of the language, not just the novel’s moral strengths.

There are a few titles I was not able to find on ECCO, including Modern Seduction, or Innocence Betrayed and Isabella: or, the Rewards of Good Nature and The Generous Sister. A Novel. In a Series of Letters. By Mrs. Cartwright. In Two Volumes. This could be my fault, but if not, I wonder why it’s happening. Eventually I settled on Friendship in a Nunnery; or, the American Fugitive in addition to Misplaced Confidence; or, Friendship Betrayed and John Buncle, Junior, Gentleman, and The Unfortunate Union: or, the Test of Virtue. Easily the most interesting title page of these selections belongs to John Buncle, Junior, Gentleman. Much sparser than the others, this title page also includes a patterned image on the front, which stands in stark contrast to the pure text of all the other title pages. John Buncle was published in Dublin while the rest were published in London, so perhaps that could have something to do with it. The differences don’t end there. John Buncle also includes a table of contents on the second page, something that all the other novels I looked at lack. This table includes such humorous (to us) labels as “Sentimental Writing,” “Talkative Woman,” and “Self-Importance.” This page also has a patterned image on it. A broader look at the differences between Dublin- and London-published works would be fascinating and would perhaps reveal more overarching trends in the publishing world.

I set my date of publication parameters to 1719 (when Robinson Crusoe was published) to 1800. Looking at the tile visualization of the term clusters, the prominence of religion really stands out. Words like “church,” “parish,” “sect,” “religion,” “Christian,” and “principles” are all among the most commonly used in titles, subjects, and beginnings of novels. Inspired by Pamela, I looked up the term frequency for “virtue” over the course of this time period; the graph shows a steady increase in the use of the word, from 824 documents in 1720 to 2816 in 1800. Though the 1740 publication of Pamela doesn’t spark a sharp increase as I had hoped, it is part of a trend of more and more frequent use of the word (though I suppose it’s possible that this is simply due to more novels being published, and not a higher percentage of novels being concerned with virtue—this seems to be a potential problem with Artemis).


Exercise 5

4 min read

Step 1: We learn a number of things from the bibliography: that the majority of the works published in England were published in London, that the majority of the works published in Ireland were published in Dublin, and that most novels cost between 5 and 7 shillings, depending on if one wanted them sewed, or bound, the latter being the more extensive option. (The bibliography also mentions ‘the circulating library’, suggesting that those who didn’t have the money to purchase books could acquire them in that way). The Monthly and Critical Reviews also tell us what, at least according to these critics, made a work of fiction good: an ‘unexceptionable’ moral stance, and a focus on writing realistically; many works were criticized for not accurately representing real life. The reviewers seem afraid of the very possibility for fiction that Armstrong argued for—that novels, through discussing life in non-traditional ways, could encourage people, especially women, to want to lead non-traditional lives. Although both reviewers give Evelina praise, the Monthly Review criticizes Captain Mirvan as having the manners rather of “a rough uneducated country ‘squire, than those of a genuine sea-captain” (Garside). Though this also raises a question—why do they criticize Captain Mirvan for not being a genuine sea-captain, but they don’t criticize Lord Merton and Willoughby for not being genuine gentlemen? This might become clearer if we had a better idea of who was responsible for writing the reviews. Were they upper class or middle class? Did they acquire the position through literary skill or social status?

Step 2: In addition to Evelina, I chose to analyze Disinterested Love, Misplaced Confidence, a Tale for Christmas, and The Man of Experience. I found it interesting that none of the texts referred to themselves as “novels” on the title page. Instead, each text labeled itself in a different way—Evelina was “a series of letters”, as was Disinterested Love, which also described itself as a History. Misplaced Confidence is a “genuine narrative of real misfortunes”, The Man of Experience is an adventure, and A Tale for Christmas is a Modern Anecdote. Misplaced Confidence, which has the most text on the title page (this text explains the contents of the story in a way that none of the other title pages do), is the only text that explicitly claims to be true. The Man of Experience, on the other hand, is the only text whose author is listed on the title page; the rest either leave it out or say that the text was “Printed for the AUTHOR.” However, in most ways, the texts are fairly standard. The title is in large font spread across the page in alternating font sizes, and contains a very short description of the work and frequently the name of one or more of the people involved (Honorius, Evelina, Sir Charles Royston and Emily Lessley). Three of the texts, Evelina, Disinterested Love, and Misplaced Confidence, all were epistolary novels, while the other two were written in the third person.

Of all these texts, Evelina has by far the best review. Although the critics praise Disinterested Love for its “refinement and delicacy of sentiment”, it also makes note of its “feebleness of expression” and “confusion of incident” (244). Misplaced Confidence and The Man of Experience are both cited as being inappropriate. A Tale for Christmas is an “agreeable hour’s amusement” (278). But the praise for Evelina is the most abundant; the reviewers described it as “one of the most sprightly, entertaining, and agreeable productions of this kind” (270), both a moral and literary success (and, perhaps because of this, it costs 2 shillings more than any of the other books).

Step 3: Artemis offers some large-scale information about the nature of the books being published in the selected time period. I chose 1750 to 1800 and did some searches in the term frequency box I thought might be interested based on the questions we answered in the previous steps. I found that while the phrase “in a series of letters”, which was present in the first 100 pages of about 45% of novels in 1753, has since jumped up and down before settling at about 0% in 1800. The word “novel” on the other hand was in about 10% of texts in 1750 but by 1800 was present in 40% of texts. “Virtue” was consistently popular, at almost 100% all four years. I also found the Frequency chart to be initially deceiving; the graph increases rapidly at the end for whatever phrase you type in, but I imagine this is just because more novels were published at the end of the century than in the middle of it.


Exercise 5

8 min read

I. Reading over Garside’s bibliography for 1778, I divided titles roughly into three categories. Very loosely, the bibliography’s novels can be divided into man, woman, and hard-to-categorize. The most prevalent category has the format [Some Word for “Story”] of [Woman’s Name], and conveys a moral aim. Examples include The Example: or the History of Lucy Cleveland. By a Young Lady, The History of Eliza Warwick. In Two Volumes, and of course Evelina, or A Young Lady’s Entrance into the World.

The second category hearkens back to Robinson Crusoe’s extensive spoiler of a title, and focuses not on the virtuous qualities of a young woman but on the adventures of a man. Examples of this second category of titles include 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 (…even the title is not “concise”), and, impressively, 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. Excerpts from contemporary reviews describe the latter novel as a satire in the vein of Gulliver’s Travels, while the reviews of the former seem to address the novel as a serious, if unsatisfactory, work.

Of the sixteen titles listed, I classified six as belonging to the first category, three as belonging to the second category, and seven – nearly half – as being not obviously of one category or the other. A cursory reading of the bibliography suggests that in 1778, the dominant type of novel professed to be concerned with imparting moral virtues through the stories of young ladies and their families as examples. The adventure novels seem like throwbacks to, or remnants of, an older, more masculine type of novel. Of course, it’s pretty dubious to classify the titles in this imprecise way, and as the general introduction notes, a bibliography’s very contents depend on the definition of ‘novel’ used, which is always somewhat arbitrary because of the imprecision and variability of the definition (Garside 4). Caveats aside, the 1778 bibliography suggests a feminization of the novel since the days of Robinson Crusoe, a hypothesis which could be tested with a bibliography from 1719. However, that hypothesis is complicated by the presence of the seven unclassifiable novel titles (for example, Friendship in a Nunnery; or, the American Fugitive. Containing a Full Description of the Mode of Education and Living in Convent Schools, Both on the Low and High Pension; the Manners and Characters of the Nuns; the Arts Practised on Young Minds; and Their Baneful Effects on Society at Large. By a Lady. In Two Volumes). These other titles point to the still-broad definition of novel that seems to include dubiously fictional works and expository writing. Again, comparison with a bibliography of a much earlier year’s novels would be helpful in figuring out whether the trend is towards or away from a greater number of these novel titles that don’t fit the [Adventure of a Man] or [Example of Virtuous Woman] formula. II. I focused on the prefaces of several novels with women’s names in their respective titles: Evelina, Lucy Cleveland, Eliza Warwick, and Memoirs of the Countess D’Anois, as well as The Unfortunate Union, which lacks a woman’s name but seems to share those novels’ purported aims, as it is “Calculated to Promote the Cause of Virtue in Younger Minds.”

Each of these novels takes a different approach to disclosing and justifying young female authorship. With the exception of Evelina, all make excuses for their existence by suggesting that the novel will in some way benefit women; with the exception of the Memoirs and The Unfortunate Union, all exaggeratedly proclaim the poor quality of the writing. The epistolary The Unfortunate Union, or, the Test of Virtue. A Story Founded on Facts, and Calculated to Promote the Cause of Virtue in Younger Minds, by “a Lady,” dives right into its first fictional letter without a preface; apparently, the full title is sufficient justification. Both the anonymously authored Eliza Warwick and “A Young Lady”’s Lucy Cleveland open with a plea to reviewers in which the author is conscious of the apparent temerity of female authorship, littering the preface with self-demeaning qualifications. Eliza Warwick’s writer uses her gender as an excuse for the supposed “inaccuracy” of her writing, but in an interesting twist (reverse psychology?) she suggests that because she is a woman, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for her work to be evaluated at a lower standard and therefore judged higher: I am not so ungenerous as to hope to prejudice you in my favour, by telling you that I am a female, and a very young one—Your gallantry might, to be sure, on that account, whisper something in my behalf—I do not mean that is should when I make that confession—nor should it be made at all, but that I think it necessary to apologize, as a woman, for this work’s not being written, perhaps, so accurately as you would expect it should be, did it come from one of your own sex (Eliza Warwick vi). Both in this novel’s preface and in that of Lucy Cleveland, the problem of female authorship is addressed by proposing a female readership which will benefit morally from the novel. The novel also acknowledges the feminized genre it belongs to. The preface concludes by entreating the reviewers not to attack the novel “by any of those satirical strokes with which sentimental Novels in general are marked by your pen” (Eliza Warwick vii). Like the other novels, Memoirs of the Countess D’Anois proposes that female virtue is at stake, but takes a different approach to readership. The note positions the novel as a corrective response to an earlier book which slanders D’Anois. The writer confidently dismisses the earlier book, explaining that her memoirs are only published because she fears the slanderous book “may be able to create an opinion very much to the disadvantage of women” (D’Anois, To the Reader). This justification claims that readers of the earlier novel may form bad opinions of women based on D’Anois’s alleged conduct; the readers in question may or may not be women themselves. In this preface, female authorship is justified not through the moral education of female readership but through the corrective education of a readership of unspecified gender. Also unlike the other four novels, this preface is signed simply with the surname D’Anois. Whereas the lady authors of the other novels demurely obscure their names and assert their gender as “A Young Lady” (Lucy Cleveland) and “A Lady” (The Unfortunate Union), the use of the surname implies masculinity and high class, since the surname denotes landed power. By addressing not critics but readers, the preface further cements the confidence of the writer in her position. Clearly, the Memoirs are of a different sub-genre from the other novels, one that depends on the visible high class status of its alleged author. Evelina, meanwhile, begins with a poem, followed by a plea to the critics for mercy, with the author’s signature replaced with asterisks. Unlike the other authors, Burney’s main concern is her inexperience as a writer rather than her gender. Burney reminds the “Gentlemen” reviewers that they were, like her, young writers in their own time, appealing not to their sense of gentlemanly chivalry as in Eliza Warwick, but to the common experience of authorship. III. Looking at the corpus from 1750 to 1800, I used the term frequency tool as a very rough proxy for the trajectory of different ideas over time. For example, the graph for the term “virtue” shows that it stays consistently popular, while increasing in absolute value as the number of novels published per year increases. In fact, it seems as though almost every word I’ve tried increases in frequency from 1750 to 1800, which I attribute to the acceleration in sheer volume of novels being published. I decided to take a look at the popularity of “sin” as a proxy for the centrality of religion to English fiction. While the term occurs slightly more frequently by 1800, it becomes markedly less popular.

Wondering whether this trend was specific to the word “sin,” or might be replicated with other religious word, I tried Jesus Christ (constant popularity), saint (constant popularity), holy (constant popularity), a variety of saints’ names (constant popularity), and pilgrim (increase in popularity). The only term with which I was able to replicate the “sin” trend is “sinner,” with a slightly less marked increase. Does this trend point to an evolution, not in the religiosity of novels, but in their religious attitudes? Artemis can’t tell that, but it can point to conceptions of sin as an area for further inquiry.


Assignment 5

4 min read

Step 1) Looking through the 1778 section of the bibliography, I was astonished by the large number of novels that were either about women or by women. It seems to have been a trend to use a woman’s first name as the title of a novel (“Evelina" provides a prime example). Even more interestingly, though, was the tendency to clarify in the title that the novel was written by a woman. The majority of books seem to emphasize their femininity—either in character, author, or subject (“A Sentimental Diary” is a rather stereotypically feminine title)—by exhibiting it in the title. We’ve already examined title pages so when looking through this bibliography, I was conscious of the level of description that readers in the 1770s would expect from the information on the title page, such as the title. The prevalence of female-themed works suggested three possibilities: 1) that fiction about women was a kind of fetish at the time, or at least surprisingly popular among the literate classes; 2) two that women made up the majority of readers, in which case it would be natural for them to want to read about characters like themselves.

With these possibilities in mine, I began wondering who the primary readers in the 1770s were. Considering that the average book costs about a third of a skilled laborer’s weekly wage, I’ve gathered that only wealthy families would be able to read novels. Within these wealthy families, though, was novel-reading seen as the purview of women, a kind of light entertainment? Or did men also read (and possibly fetishize) these stories?

Step 2) I chose four novels: "Evelina,” “Memoirs of the Countess d’Anois,” “The Unfortunate Union,” and “The Travels of Hildebrand Bowman.” I chose the first three because they are novels about women, by women. The last one is as far from womanly as I could find: it seems to be an adventure story about men.

The title pages of all four novels are remarkably similar, down to the number of lines (two) between above the place of printing (London, for all four works). The type is similar, if not the same in each. All include a brief description of the work on the title page. Interestingly, Burney’s name is omitted entirely from the title page; the two books claim to be written by the title character: “Memoirs of the Countess d’Anois,” and "“The Travels of Hildebrand Bowman.” The last, “The Unfortunate Union,” just says, “By a lady.” Basically, individual names of authors seem to have been intentionally excluded from the title page (unless the author claims to be the title character). The “by a lady” aspect is new—it reveals more information than we’d received with previous novels, because we at least know the sex of the author.

All four novels are written in the first person (going off of observations from random pages). When did third-person narration begin to appear?

I was also interested in the fact that the novel that seems to have been intended for men (Hildebrand Bowman) offers the lengthiest description on the title page. It’s quite Crusoe-like: the author gives away the ending of the novel and all major events in a few paragraphs on the title page. The books by women and about women have broader descriptions, focusing more on the intent of the book (to promote virtue, according to “An Unfortunate Union”). I’m wondering: does the pedagogical nature of the books for/about/by women have anything to do with women’s role as the primary teachers of children? Was writing novels seen as a method of showing children how to be virtuous, and thus seen as women’s duty, while men could write and read whatever they wanted?

3) I wasn’t really sure how to use ARTEMIS properly. I ended up playing around with term frequency a lot and discovered that no matter what word I entered, frequency went up with time. I tried “man,” “woman,” “virtue.” Then, I tried “Evelina” and found some huge spikes and some flat lines. I realized that this graph must show reprinting of "Evelina" (because I find it unlikely that the word “Evelina” is being used to any great extent in other novels). But basically, I learned from Artemis that more books are being printed as time goes on, so later dates are more likely to call up more results for specific word searches. I don’t think there’s any word that’s not specific to an individual book that would decrease with time.


Assignment 5: Textual Data Mining

5 min read

The bibliography of British prose fiction from the 1776-1779 allows us to better understand the literary trend of this period. From this survey, we can compare and contrast the themes of each novel, identifying the “popular” tendencies of late 18th century writers. However, it is fascinating how the novels are classified. The novels, for which the authors remained anonymous, are at the front for each year’s classification Interestingly, most, if not all, anonymous authors are “ladies”, indicating of the stereotyped “domesticity” of women. In other words, many of the female authors chose not to be named in order to avoid attention of or harassment by men. The female authors chose to maintain their “virtue”, focusing on the ties between love and morality. In contrast, most male authors tended to write about adventures, playing into the stereotype of masculinity for the audience. However, what stood out were not the obvious trends that female and male writers were focusing on, but the cost of their novels. Most of the novels costed 5-6 shillings, with bounded novels costing more than their sewed counterparts. Since the average wages of skilled laborers were between 15 and 20 shillings per week, most novels costed about a third of a week’s salary. From our perspective, the novels either costed too much or the laborers were underpaid. Taking into factor that mass production of novels were present in the 18th century, I must support the idea that wages in the 18th century were vastly more unfair than today’s minimum wage. However, we cannot deduct from the fact that the evolution of technology since then made novels much cheaper and, therefore, easier to access for the public.

Analyzing the bibliography of Evelina, or, a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World, we can see that the author is Frances Burney and the publisher is T. Lowndes located in No. 77 in Fleet Street in London. Notably, T. Lowndes seems to have been a prestigious publisher, as the Garside entries show that he did publish many novels. The price of this novel is 7 shillings and 6 pence for a sewed copy and 9 shillings for a bound copy (a much higher price compared to that of other novels). We can see that Lowndes paid 20 guineas to Burney for the two volumes of the novel and published 500 copies. The bibliography also mentions that Burney was initially disappointed at the offered price, but was later “satisfied”. There is also a discrepancy in how many novels were initially published, as Burney claimed that 800 copies, not 500, were made. This bibliography seems to focus more on the relation on how the novel became published, rather than the content.

Using ECCO, I looked into Munster Village, Memoirs of the Countess D’Anois, Learning at a Loss, and The Unfortunate Union. Munster Village by Lady Mary Hamilton is about the divorced female characters of Munster Village. The novel seems to advocate for kindness, as the community survives upon it. However, this novel utilizes footnotes, which I hadn’t seen in older novels. I always thought footnotes originated with more modern novels. Memoirs of the Countess D’Anois is written by Henriette Julie de Castelnau Murat. Although dull, the novel does grant insight to the life of a countess in the 18th century. Notably, this novel does not highlight the virtue of women, but rather the whim. The countess is seemingly trying to explain her perspective in flirting with other men. Therefore, in a sense, this novel is the most realistic, as it chooses not to portray all women as virtuous and naive, but rather having actual desires. Learning at a Loss by Gregory Lewis Way does utilize an epistolary form, much like Evelina. However, all the characters seem to have the same personality, and is therefore hard to distinguish from one another. The Unfortunate Union by Anonymous is also in epistolary form and has a similar setting to Evelina. However this novel seems to advocate for virtue in young minds. As we can see from these novels, there is a general trend urging virtue and kindness, not necessarily towards females, but males as well.

Using ARTEMIS, I can see that this program would be especially useful to track down and analyze old novels. The ARTEMIS program seems to focus on visualizations of the results for the users, allowing them to conceptualize trends for selected terms. Term clusters seems to be like Voyant Tools, except looking at other categories such as authors instead of just the text. This tool especially allows us to see which literary technique (epistolary in this case) is popular in that era. Term frequency is wonderful for highlighting what terms are used as time periods change. Indepthly, this tool helps us analyze the trend of what content the authors are focusing (e.g. love for this era). We can see which words became popular and which became less used. Overall, the ARTEMIS visual graphs are user friendly and easy to interpret.


Evelina in 1778...or, EVELINA!!!!!!!

6 min read


The implications of the bibliography in terms of enhancing our understanding of genres and the literary history of the period are really compelling for me. As stated in the introduction, the bibliography is founded on the assumption that a complete set of data (as complete as can be, I guess) can tell us what a novel was in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth centuries. What does this mean? The terms of this begin to be worked out in the introduction and become more clear looking at the actual data set/bibliography. The strengths of bibliographic data in terms of allowing users to make comparisons across novels and to “provide a basis for an assessment of the work of all novelists in the period” is particularly fascinating. What kinds of large conclusions can be drawn from this data and what are its limits? I’m curious about how much the difficult editorial decisions which are referred to in the introduction complicate the process of creating a usable and comprehensive bibliography (and what does this lead us to ask about the subjective forces that go into creating a supposedly complete database in other disciplines/formats)? I’m also unclear on how bibliographies might challenge, refine, and revise existing canons and histories or I guess what is at stake in claiming the creation of bibliographies represents an act of restoration or recovery of lost history. What also sticks out to me is a sort of flattening of all of the novels included in the bibliography — they all come to seem not equally important but, through their inclusion, on something of the same level, if that makes sense (I am thinking of our discussion of flattening of the importance of all of the references we extracted from Robinson Crusoe with the NER).

In terms of the bibliographic data on the year 1778, there is an extraordinary amount of information you can get just from using this data. Particularly notable to me was the high number of anonymous authors — this stands out because when I picture the rack at today’s bookstore, the author’s name is often the same size or larger than the title…this raises a lot of questions for me about the stakes or meanings of authorship in the novel in 1778. I also noted the way in which novels are still making claims to truth (based on a true story, a sketch from nature, founded on real facts) in 1778 and wonder what this scaffolding of sincerity might mean for these novels. The criticism noted in the bibliography is also pretty unequivocally negative and unflattering, encouraging readers for the most part not to peruse the novels reviewed. Three frequent critiques: that the writing in the books is unclear, that they provide bad moral examples, and that the incidents are not interesting/various enough (i.e. book does not provide enough entertainment value). This seems to reveal that critics had some sense of what to expect from a novel in terms of style, entertainment, and moral value and that novels were evaluated based on these standards. It seems from this data that you could break the novels in 1778 down into “examples” or “instructions,” memoirs, histories, diaries, or accounts of travel.


After comparing Evelina to other books in ECCO from the bibliography its title and prefatory material feel as though they stick out even more. We discussed in class briefly the way in which her name comes first and is the title or stands for the rest of the book — what is particularly notable about this as well to me is that Burney does not claim moral instruction in the book or that it will be a history or an example. She actually seems to resist this kind of categorization by sticking to the descriptive yet vague “A Young Lady’s Entrance into the World. In a Series of Letters.” This gives us the “what” and the form — we know that this will be about a young lady entering into the world and that it will be epistolary but we don’t know if it will have a more morally instructive or a more entertainment focus, whether it will be a satire…anything! This is not “The Life and Opinions” or “The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures” — it is “Evelina,” just as “Pamela” goes with its heroine’s name. To me this opens up a lot of questions and possibilities in terms of what the novel wants to say about female subjectivity and about the importance of naming and names to its narrative. It’s unclear to me where Burney thought the book fit in in terms of hierarchies of prestige, taste, etc. — the prefatory material, dedication, etc. is weirdly self-deprecating and apologetic, which feels deeply gendered to me even though the authorship began anonymous. I’m curious if Burney was trying to fit into what she saw as a tradition of novel-writing, how she might have conceptualized of the gendered dimensions of this field, whether her purpose was fame or fortune or moral instruction or entertainment in writing the novel…or, rather than providing definitive answers to these questions, I would wonder how the novel might succeed or fail at all of these things and what the implications of this are for the literary history of the period. Also after looking more at the bibliographic data I’m still curious about why Evelina was so much more successful and well-reviewed than pretty much any of these other novels — despite the fact that the reviewers note some inconsistency in terms of content (they point up the ways in which Captain Mirvan does not seem like he belongs in the book at all, like he doesn’t know he’s in Burney’s novel almost…).


There are some clear problems/limitations with Artemis but also some really exciting implications! I am thinking of Ramsey’s article and trying to focus on what Artemis opens up. The necessarily holistic nature of computing is really on Artemis’ side here — the subject indexing can achieve so much that humans themselves could only do with a lot of time and a lot of very painstaking work. I guess I’m curious about how one would make sure the subject indexing is both useful/relevant and also inclusive enough (how you determine the scope of which words are associated, in other words). Term frequency is also interesting. The question is how one would make the jump from term frequency and term clusters into criticism — which is where Ramsey’s formulation of criticism’s function in terms of opening up further possibilities for discussion rather than providing conclusions comes in handy. These kinds of tools could easily answer the types of questions — and create new questions — Ramsey raises with regards to To The Lighthouse. Cool! (OT sort of: I’m also thinking of this extremely funny article about one of my favorite books: