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The Social Quest

The Expanded Vision of Four Women Travelers in the Era of the French Revolution

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Sandra Adickes

Although they held widely differing political views, each of the women in this study - Mary Wollstonecraft, Helen Maria Williams, Ann Radcliffe, and Mary Berry - responded to a common aspiration during the «golden dawn» of the French Revolution and set off to explore the European continent. The writing each woman produced as a result of her quest differed substantially in style and content from her previous work. In the documentations of their travels during this turbulent period, these women functioned as early sociologists, political scientists, and historians, in effect creating a new genre that delivered them from the limitations of women's writing in the 18th century and expanded the choices of later women writers.
Contents: Writing of their travels through Europe in the 1790's, Mary Wollstonecraft, Helen Maria Williams, Ann Radcliffe, and Mary Berry analyzed the social, economic, and political consequences of the French Revolution, with emphasis on its impact on women.