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Belinda (Oxford World's Classics)

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192837097
ISBN-10: 0192837095
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"A superbly edited text and an informative introduction."--Gregory Maertz, St. John's University


About the Author

Kathryn Kirkpatrick is Assistant Professor, Department of English, Appalachian State University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 19, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192837095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192837097
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.9 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,199,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
I started reading Belinda around 6pm and finally around 2:30am I decided that I had best go to bed and finish the book later. Well, 10 minutes later my light was back on and I stayed up until 6:30am finishing the book. Not even all of Jane Austen's work has done that to me!
The themes of gender and sexual attitudes, colonialism, religion, etc can easily be found in this work if you're interested in it for its scholarly value. However for the lay person it is a beautifully written, light read that is reminiscent of Austen's Mansfield Park or Sense and Sensibility (I certainly don't see many parallels to Pride and Prejudice as one reviewer did). If you're looking to go past Austen into early 19th century English literature, I would certainly recommend this book highly.
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Format: Paperback
Besides this being as readable as Jane Austen, this book is witty and intelligent. It raises thought provoking questions about gender roles and transgression that suggest that Edgeworth was not an ordinary woman. Unfortunately, like many other 18th C. novels, the book ends with all the usual conventions intact. The women who cross dress (and the man who cross-dresses!) are returned to their spheres and/or married. Don't get me wrong though, this book is quite innovative. I don't know of many literary women having duels and stepping in iron traps that cut up their legs. Also particularly interesting is Edgeworth's treatment of colonialism: there is a cross-racial marriage that is entirely sanctioned. And yet the thought of the heroine marrying a creole is not approved. It is much better for her to marry an Englishman in the parliament. This is a delightful book that would entertain romantics and scholars. I would like to think that I am both, though.
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I picked up Belinda when I heard that it was similar to Jane Austen. While there are parallels to Austen's work, Edgeworth differs in that she was slightly more worldly than Austen was.

In Belinda, we follow the story of a young woman of uncommon good sense, who, at the behest of her aunt, goes to stay with Lady Delacour in London. While there, Belinda meets Lady Delacour's protégé Clarence Hervey, with whom, of course, she falls in love. Mr. Hervey, however, may or may not be attached to another young lady. The book touches on colonialism when Mr. Vincent, a man with a deep secret, enters the picture and threatens to steal Belinda's heart.

The novel is an 18th-century "will they or won't they?" and the plot unfolds neatly, albeit dramatically. For a novel published in 1803, Belinda is highly (and compulsively) readable. It's a must read for anyone who loves Jane Austen.
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There is little doubt that contemporary reviewers of Belinda were right when they said the book ought to be named after Lady Delacour--a character who not only orchestrates much of the plot but is fascinating in her own right. The eponymous heroine, on the other hand, is somewhat of a distant, often reserved, spectator for much of the novel. Trying to eschew her Aunt Stanhope's reputation for setting her nieces up with rich men, Belinda Portman strikes up an intimate friendship with the somewhat eccentric Lady Delacour, who is a notorious flirt, a fashion setter, an estranged wife and mother, and ultimately the possessor of a deep secret. When Belinda meets one of Lady Delacour's favorite and more ingenious flirts, Clarence Hervey, they are instantly struck with each other, but Hervey will be damned if he be taken in by one of Stanhope's marriage-marketing set! Accidentally revealing his rather exaggerated sentiments of Belinda as a fortune hunter to a group of friends while Belinda is (unbeknownst to Hervey) amongst the group, their mutual embarrassment and fascination with each other is problematically sealed.

Lady Delacour and her fair-weather friend, Harriet Freke, take the cake in a novel that deals head on with issues of Britain's growing imperial identity (abroad/at home being a popular binary throughout) and the gender politics of late eighteenth-/early nineteenth-century Britain. Between dealing with rotting breasts and cross-dressing duels, suggestive lesbianism and create-your-own-ideal-wife schemes, Belinda as a novel teeters between downright hilarity and shockingly astute social critique. As a scholar of the long C18, and one particularly interested in women's issues and women's writing, Belinda ranks as among my top 10 favorite novels.
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Edgeworth is interesting and intelligent. I enjoy Dickens, Dumas and Gaskell. If you have read and enjoyed them, you should read this. You won't be disappointed.
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By Seckmea on December 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books I have read in a long long time. Amazingly, I read it for a class! It has an intricate plot, engaging characters, and it was written, even more amazingly, in 1801! Edgeworth is a fantastic writer!
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Lady Delacour is by far the most intriguing character in this novel but Belinda and the two male leads, (Mr. Hervey and Mr. Vincent) can carry their own. This is a wonderful novel filled with a few surprises and mystery. For instance - who is the captive Virginia, what is her story, and how does she figure into Belinda's future? The book is highly readable and you won't want to put it down in order to find out who will end up with who and what will become of the enigmatic Lady Delacour. Typical themes of the times - sexism, colonialism, etc are woven throughout the beautiful prose. Highly recommended!
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