The Early American Women Writers series offers rare works of fiction by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women, each reprinted in its entirety, each introduced by Cathy N. Davidson, who places the novel in an historical and literary perspective. Ranging from serious cautionary tales about moral corruption to amusing and trenchant social satire, these books provide today's reader with a unique window into the earliest American popular fiction and way of life.
First published in 1801, Female Quixotism is a boisterous, rollicking anti-romance and literary satire. It takes place in the fictional village of L---, Pennsylvania, where its central character Dorcas Sheldon--who styles herself the romantic "Dorcasina"--sets out on a quixotic quest for the kind of romantic love portrayed in her favorite English novels. Having rejected the prosaic yet honorable advances of her first suitor, "Lysander," Dorcasina narrowly escapes marriage to a series of unscrupulous rogues interested mostly in her considerable fortune. Moving from one misadventure to another, the heroine's journey ends in a lonely old age bereft of romantic illusion.
Female Quixotism was written during a period of self-definition for the fledgling American republic, and offers a telling glimpse of gender, race, and class issues--as volatile then as they are today. Its woman's-eye view of the life and literature of the age provides a tragicomic parody of the limited choices available to women in a society dedicated to the principle that all men are created equal.
"Splendid edition."--D. Van Leer, University of California, Davis
"Very useful to have this text available and so intelligently edited."--E.N. Feltskog, University of Wisconsin
"This series is quickly becoming indispensable to teachers and scholars of earlier American literature. Female Quixotism is not only a worthy book in its own right, but a marvelous tool for debunking commonly held assumptions about the limits of women's voices and literary visions in the eighteenth-and early nineteenth centuries. This book is a multi-layered treasure!"--Liahna Babener, Montana State Univ.
"It is good to see an edition of this significant text in print. I intend to use it in both undergraduate and graduate courses this Fall semester."--John Samson, Texas Tech University
"Invaluable for getting early American literature into focus."--Paul Kane, Vasser College
"The book has merit as an intriguing early example of American comic writers dealing with sentimentality in a realistic world. Students of American humor will wish to read this book and its brief but informative introduction."--To Wit, James Madison University
"A wonderful book . . . can be used well in a variety of English courses."--Dr. Marion Perry, Erie Community College-South
"I used this last year in my early American lit. course and I will use it again next quarter. The students loved it. It really works well in dialogue with Franklin and Brown, as well as other women novelists from this era. I'm glad this text is available."--David W. Newton, West Georgia College