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Abstract

This article reconsiders the connection between Mary Wollstonecraft's Maria, or The Wrongs of Woman and Frances Burney's The Wanderer, arguing that reading the two texts in tandem reveals close affinities as well as strategic (as opposed to ideological) differences. While The Wanderer rather crudely parodies Wollstonecraft's revolutionary fervour in the character of Elinor Joddrel, it also thematizes and advances, in subterranean ways, the specific feminist agenda proposed in Wollstonecraft's posthumous novel. The anti-heroine embodies Wollstonecraft's scandalous life and opinions, and the social critique articulated in her novel weaves through the heroine's trajectory, replicated and revised so that the wrongs inflicted upon the problematic Maria re-emerge as the difficulties endured by the estimable Juliet. Fracturing Wollstonecraft into historical persona and text, The Wanderer enacts a strategy of domesticating and assimilating into genteel society the progressive ideology of this difficult and polarizing icon of revolutionary romanticism. Locating Juliet's travails within the historical context of the French Revolution, Burney's depiction of a woman almost literally "Bastilled" by marriage aims to demonstrate that oppressive patriarchal practices contravene an English sense of justice.

Contributor's Note

Tara Ghoshal Wallace is professor of English and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in Arts and Sciences at The George Washington University. Her most recent book is Imperial Characters: Home and Periphery in Eighteenth-Century Literature (2010), and she is currently working on Walter Scott and monarchy.

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