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Margaret the First: A Novel de Danielle…
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Margaret the First: A Novel (original: 2016; edição: 2016)

de Danielle Dutton (Autor)

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
2751775,258 (3.57)11
Margaret the First dramatizes the life of Margaret Cavendish, the shy, gifted, and wildly unconventional seventeenth-century duchess. The eccentric Margaret wrote and published volumes of poems, philosophy, feminist plays, and utopian science fiction at a time when "being a writer" was not an option open to women. As one of the Queen's attendants and the daughter of prominent Royalists, she was exiled to France when King Charles I was overthrown. As the English Civil War raged on, Margaret met and married William Cavendish, who encouraged her writing and her desire for a career. After the War, her work earned her both fame and infamy in England; at the dawn of daily newspapers, she was "Mad Madge," an original tabloid celebrity. Yet Margaret was also the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London-a mainstay of the Scientific Revolution-and the last for another two hundred years. Margaret the First is very much a contemporary novel set in the past. Written with lucid precision and sharp cuts through narrative time, it is a gorgeous and wholly new approach to imagining the life of a historical woman.… (mais)
Membro:ShiraDest
Título:Margaret the First: A Novel
Autores:Danielle Dutton (Autor)
Informação:Catapult (2016), 176 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:
Etiquetas:to-read, FromGR

Detalhes da Obra

Margaret the First de Danielle Dutton (2016)

Adicionado recentemente porJe9, alexfatch, sharvani, Lahoori, rshart3, lehrer21, Eumenides
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Slight and very personal (as opposed to impersonal). It fits in with my not so recent reading about Pepys. What a very particular personality. Reminds me of a friend who is prickly and tender at the same time. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
Some things of varying importance that irked me:

- Everyone's always chewing. "I listened. I chewed my bread" (p. 58). "Together they chewed the goose" (p. 94). "William only chewed his meat" (p. 97). Etc.
- Jarringly anachronistic word choice. Twice, Margaret "clicks" through mental images (pp. 35 and 132).
- Stuff that no one at that time would think, e.g. "It was the century of magnificent beds" (p. 38).
- Margaret's voice is inconsistent, like in this passage, which sounds nothing like her: "When London intellectual John Evelyn married Lady Browne's ...." (p. 40).
- The section told from Pepys's point of view toward the end is ripped directly from another biography, one by Douglas Grant, which opens with Pepys's attempts to catch a glimpse of Margaret.
- There's no central conflict or plot - it's essentially a biography of Margaret Cavendish with some first-person reflections sprinkled in. Moreover, it's not a very good biography, as her biggest life events, such as the violent loss of her family home, exile, and war, are rendered in the most vague sketches. I guess you could say the conflict is that she's trying to write in a man's world, but that conflict is not established at the beginning, rather unfurling throughout the novel. There's no tension to tie everything together and make it a story.

Although I mostly didn't like this book and I think it does a disservice to Margaret Cavendish, reducing her only to her desire to write (was there ever anyone less boring than real-life Margaret Cavendish? Yet here she's one-sided and single-minded), there were some lovely passages of internal monologue. I think the writer's style, though lovely, is too abstract to serve a historical novel. ( )
  Crae | Dec 20, 2020 |
This is an interesting story about a real person but I suspect a lot of the story is invented. In any case, it reveals a fascinating character who broke through a lot of barriers for the time. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Dec 4, 2020 |
Beautifully written and quite enjoyable, but also difficult to recommend to anyone in particular. My wife read it first, not knowing anything about Margaret Cavendish. She thought it was okay, but she was very confused, because Dutton alludes to Cavendish's life and writing, but rarely fleshes out those allusions. Okay, I thought, I'll re-read a bit of Cavendish and a read bit about her before I read the novel.

But having done that, it's pretty clear that the character Margaret is nothing like the woman, Cavendish. This is quite intentional, as Dutton's author's note explains: "I am also indebted to the writing of Virginia Woolf... in whose life and work I unexpectedly found much inspiration for the woman who took shape inside this book." Woolf wrote two great essays about Cavendish, and it makes sense that Dutton, who is clearly interested in writing well (and does, in fact, write very well), should have appreciated Woolf's work.

The problem is that Woolf and Cavendish are so very, very different. What we have here is basically Woolf's personality in Cavendish's historical existence, and it's quite jarring. The world sees an eccentric, outgoing, flamboyant character: which is what you get from Cavendish's own clear, confident, world-encompassing prose. We, the readers of this novel, see Virginia Woolf, who was none of those things.

The book might be intended as an investigation of the difference between public perception and private reflection, but if that's the idea, it doesn't quite work. I'd have to re-read to work out why: is it a flaw in the work of art? Or is it just an unavoidable consequence of writing a book about a flamboyant English eccentric, based on the life and writing of a woman who, no matter how fascinating and intelligent, was externally quite conformist? Hard to know. But I'll be happy to re-read and find out.

[Don't even get me started on the ludicrous politics of this novel, though. This is the last time anyone will ever be allowed to ask me to sympathize with the plight of the wife of an 18th century English peer. The suffering of being inhumanly rich! The humanity!] ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
Maybe my expectations, and the incredible nature of the woman I'd never heard of, were too high. Margaret was, indeed, a very interesting character, but I'm left with the feeling that I want to go and read more about her because I learned very little from the narrative.

I suppose the first person POV used with a character whose thoughts were fanciful and not altogether coherent (to me, at least) was partly responsible. I understand why the author made that choice -- she does a beautiful job of putting the reader into the character's head. But I wanted to be outside the head, to understand her and her choices better and to better follow the tumultuous era in which she lived. ( )
  Katester123 | Sep 17, 2020 |
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Art itself is, for the most part, irregular. — Margaret Cavendish
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Margaret the First dramatizes the life of Margaret Cavendish, the shy, gifted, and wildly unconventional seventeenth-century duchess. The eccentric Margaret wrote and published volumes of poems, philosophy, feminist plays, and utopian science fiction at a time when "being a writer" was not an option open to women. As one of the Queen's attendants and the daughter of prominent Royalists, she was exiled to France when King Charles I was overthrown. As the English Civil War raged on, Margaret met and married William Cavendish, who encouraged her writing and her desire for a career. After the War, her work earned her both fame and infamy in England; at the dawn of daily newspapers, she was "Mad Madge," an original tabloid celebrity. Yet Margaret was also the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London-a mainstay of the Scientific Revolution-and the last for another two hundred years. Margaret the First is very much a contemporary novel set in the past. Written with lucid precision and sharp cuts through narrative time, it is a gorgeous and wholly new approach to imagining the life of a historical woman.

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813 — Literature American and Canadian American fiction

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