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The Novels of Madame de Souza in Social and Political Perspective

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Kirsty Carpenter

Madame de Souza’s seven major novels written in the period from 1794 to 1822 show the emergence of the female-authored French novel, and the novel’s role as a vehicle for political ideas during the revolutionary period. The novels; Adèle de Sénange, Emilie et Alphonse, Charles et Marie, Eugénie et Mathilde, Eugène de Rothelin, Mademoiselle de Tournon, and La comtesse de Fargy, make an important contribution to early nineteenth-century French literature. Madame de Souza was an acute observer of the intimate workings of Paris society, and of social and political change in the years 1789-1830. Unedited extracts from her novels, Etre et Paraître and other less complete manuscripts appear here in print for the first time. The author was born in 1761, and lived through the political regimes of a Revolution, Empire and Restoration, dying in Paris, in 1836. She had a long life filled with friends, correspondents, and travels in Britain and Europe, and she was admired by literary critics like Sismondi and Marie-Joseph Chénier. Until now, a small amount of research has been focused on her first novel, Adèle de Sénange, but this book shows that this is only one of seven works that should be better known than they are at present.
Contents: Historical commentary on the novels of Madame de Souza – Thematic analysis and literary criticism – French Revolution feminism and feminist writers – The novel as a form of female political discourse alongside other revolutionary pamphlets and newspapers – Comparisons with British and French women novelists, especially the novels of Frances Burney.