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Moll Flanders (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – June 11, 2002
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The breasts, raised skirts, tumbling hair and heavy breathing on the small screen might catch you by surprise if you don't read the book carefully (as might Moll's abandonment of her children on more than one occasion). Unlike his near-contemporary John Cleland (_Fanny Hill_), Defoe was trying to keep out of jail, and so didn't dwell on the details of "correspondence" between Moll and her varied lovers. But on the page and on the screen, Moll comes across quite clearly as a woman who might bend, but refuses to break, and who is intent on having as good a life as she can get.
E. M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel considers Moll and her creator's art in some detail. While he finds much to criticize in Defoe's ability to plot (where did those last two children go, anyway?), he is as besotted with Moll as I am. Immoral? Sure -- but immortal, and never, ever dull. We hope at least a few of the viewers of the recent adaptation take a couple hours to discover the original, inimitable Moll Flanders. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The novel begins with a tip of the hat to that fine progenitor of the novel, "Don Quixote," a Gines-like acknowledgment that Moll, as the author of her own story, cannot complete that story within the text of the novel, unless people can write when they are deceased. Amusements aside, Moll begins her story as Crusoe begins his, with an immediate acknowledgment of the instability of the modern self - the corruption of her own name. Born in Newgate prison, and having never known her mother, Moll finds herself among gypsies and landed gentry before settling in Colchester for the term of her youth. Here, she founds her sense of social ambition, unusual even for Jane Eyre in the 19th century, as one in which she figures to be a gentlewoman by earning her own living. Various mishaps and misadventures lead her through marriages, whoredom, and thievery as Moll attempts to find her place in the world as a woman of common birth.Read more ›
If, on the other hand, you had no trouble with that paragraph, I daresay that you'll enjoy this book, even if, as the father of the English novel, Defoe had yet to engender the chapter break.
Also it should be pointed out this may well be the first novel in which a male author attempts to write a story in which the lead character is female, and Defoe does a surprisingly good job of it.
The novel is also largely autobiographical. DeFoe himself experienced many financial ups and downs, yet he persevered. In fact it wasn't until he was 60 years old that he began writing novels and achieved some measure of fame and financial success. He spent time in Newgate prison and deeply in debt. He was also an outspoken political reformer who wrote more than 250 political pamphlets.
Having said the above, the novel still has its faults. One is that it is written in a continuous manner with no chapter breaks. While DeFoe may have been trying to say that time is continuous and that distinctions (such as hours, days, weeks, etc.) are mere fabrications, still readers like to have books broken down into chapters. A more serious flaw is the lack of names. Apart from her first husband there are virtually no names given to the characters. Even Moll herself is not identified by the title name until well into the book and even this name is not her actual name (which we never learn).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's a takes a little time to really get into it, but once familiarity with Moll Flanders becomes developed it becomes more and more absorbing. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
My husband purchased this book and read it. he seemed to enjoy it as he did not put it down until he finished it. I cannot really give his honest opinion.Published 17 days ago by Shari L Garbez
An excellent critical edition. I rate this one over any annotated or other current unabridged editions. Read morePublished 22 days ago by iRhoadster
Another personal favorite of mine. Moll flanders was an adventurous character and i enjoyed reading this book over and over.Published 1 month ago by amy blanchette
There are a few interesting twists. But its 'one more adventure' after another without much character development that I can see.Published 8 months ago by Jon H Steinberg