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The Female American or, The Adventures of Unca Eliza Winkfield (Broadview Literary Texts)

de Unca Eliza Winkfield

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When it first appeared in 1767, The Female American was called a "sort of second Robinson Crusoe; full of wonders." Indeed, The Female American is an adventure novel about an English protagonist shipwrecked on a deserted isle, where survival requires both individual ingenuity and careful negotiations with visiting local Indians. But what most distinguishes Winkfield's novel is her protagonist, a woman who is of mixed race. Though the era's popular novels typically featured women in the confining contexts of the home and the bourgeois marriage market, Winkfield's novel portrays an autonomous and mobile heroine living alone in the wilds of the New World, independently interacting with both Native Americans and visiting Europeans. Moreover, The Female American is one of the earliest novelistic efforts to articulate an American identity, and more specifically to investigate what that identity might promise for women.Along with discussion of authorship issues, the Broadview edition contains excerpts from English and American source texts. This is the only edition available.… (mais)
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Some elements of interest but not for the casual reader. A desert island story but with no island survival neccessary. Some less racism and sexism than you might expect from the era.

Its version of Native Americans seems more south american than north. Despite being native american and an excellent shot with a bow the female lead isn't shown as having any more survival skills than other women of the period and most of the story is just religious preaching.

While there is some interesting stuff i havn't mentioned i was expecting something more like [b:Hannah Hewit or The Female Crusoe|47572158|Hannah Hewit or The Female Crusoe Volume II|Charles Dibdin|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1565301412l/47572158._SY75_.jpg|44938068].
However at least it was short, Hannah is a Tony Stark level genius and far more interesting but that work comes in 3 volumes and even i skipped the first one.

I think 2 stars is a fare assessment. ( )
  wreade1872 | Nov 28, 2021 |
This was one of the texts I had to read for a class, and having never heard of it (except in reference to "Robinson Crusoe"), I had high hopes for it. Sadly, I did not enjoy it. To me, aspects of the story are so utterly ridiculous that it must be a satire. If it is a satire, then kudos to the author... but then again, if it is a satire, then nobody else seems to get it, and therefore it doesn't succeed in its goal. To me, it reads as religious intolerance.

First off, you have a wealthy, educated (and multilingual), biracial, female heroine. Absolutely unheard of at the time, and not something that readers would have been able to take seriously. Her birth only happens because her Pagan mother was converted to Christianity by her father, and Unca Eliza shrugs off much of her mother's culture to embrace Christianity. She keeps her archery ability, but gets rid of her mother's religion.

She refuses marriage with the reason that her husband must be able to use a bow and arrow better than she. An admirable stance, but unrealistic. I expect that a woman would have only been able to refuse marriage if she were wealthy, so I guess it is lucky that Unca Eliza is.

When Unca Eliza ends up on an island--the most obvious indication that this is a Robinsonade--she encounters a hermit who leaves her basically a how-to book on how to survive the island and warns her of the natives. She doesn't really figure anything out for herself. Later Unca Eliza seeks out the natives and is greatly impressed by their temple, tools, jewelry, and a giant idol which allows someone standing inside to see out of it for miles and miles. She is so impressed that she decides she must immediately convert these people. Sure they have obvious intelligence as displayed through their metal-working and architecture, but they need to be converted to Christianity because they don't know any better??

And how does she accomplish this conversion? Why through fear, trickery, and hypocrisy. She is quick to condemn these people because of their idolatry, but is also quick to use it for herself. She uses their own technology against them, pretending to be, essentially, a god in order to SCARE them into gaining their trust. She flat out threatens to destroy them. Basically she believes herself superior to them because of her religion and believes she must do whatever it takes to convert them.

And eventually she does end up getting married, despite her previous stance, so what might have been her one redeemable quality is now gone.

If anything, this story is a huge example of religious intolerance, and there's nothing I enjoy about that. If it's a satire, then it's an argument against religious imperialism... but so few seem to see that side, and therefore it fails to have the impact it should. ( )
  Kegsoccer | Jan 13, 2012 |
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Unca Eliza Winkfieldautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Burnham, MichelleEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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When it first appeared in 1767, The Female American was called a "sort of second Robinson Crusoe; full of wonders." Indeed, The Female American is an adventure novel about an English protagonist shipwrecked on a deserted isle, where survival requires both individual ingenuity and careful negotiations with visiting local Indians. But what most distinguishes Winkfield's novel is her protagonist, a woman who is of mixed race. Though the era's popular novels typically featured women in the confining contexts of the home and the bourgeois marriage market, Winkfield's novel portrays an autonomous and mobile heroine living alone in the wilds of the New World, independently interacting with both Native Americans and visiting Europeans. Moreover, The Female American is one of the earliest novelistic efforts to articulate an American identity, and more specifically to investigate what that identity might promise for women.Along with discussion of authorship issues, the Broadview edition contains excerpts from English and American source texts. This is the only edition available.

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