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Olinda's Adventures: or the Amours of a Young Lady   By: (1679-1749)

Olinda's Adventures: or the Amours of a Young Lady by Catharine Trotter

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Transcriber's Notes:

This book contains inconsistent punctuation and various misspellings which have been retained as they appear in the original. An Errata List with unresolved printer errors can be found at the end of the book. Superscripts are preceded by the [^] sign and enclosed in braces if more than one letter is in superscript. The illustration at page 136 was placed at the end of the section so as not to disrupt the text.

Mark up: italics =bold=



Or the Amours of a Young Lady


Introduction by ROBERT ADAMS DAY






William E. Conway, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

George Robert Guffey, University of California, Los Angeles

Maximillian E. Novak, University of California, Los Angeles


David S. Rodes, University of California, Los Angeles


Richard C. Boys, University of Michigan

James L. Clifford, Columbia University

Ralph Cohen, University of Virginia

Vinton A. Dearing, University of California, Los Angeles

Arthur Friedman, University of Chicago

Louis A. Landa, Princeton University

Earl Miner, University of California, Los Angeles

Samuel H. Monk, University of Minnesota

Everett T. Moore, University of California, Los Angeles

Lawrence Clark Powell, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

James Sutherland, University College, London

H. T. Swedenberg, Jr., University of California, Los Angeles

Robert Vosper, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library


Edna C. Davis, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library


Mary Kerbret, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library


A standard modern history of the English novel speaks of "the appearance of the novel round about 1700. Nothing that preceded it in the way of prose fiction can explain it."[1] Though today many scholars would assert that "nothing" is too strong a term, just how much of the original fiction written under the later Stuarts could "explain" Defoe and Richardson? Most late seventeenth century novels, it is true, are rogue biographies, scandal chronicles, translations and imitations of French nouvelles , or short sensational romances of love, intrigue, and adventure with fantastic plots and wooden characters. Only occasionally was a tale published which showed that it was not examples of the novelist's craft that were wanting to inspire the achievement of a Defoe, but rather the sustained application of that craft over hundreds of pages by the unique combination of talents of a Defoe himself.

Such a novel is Olinda's Adventures , a brief epistolary narrative of 1693, a minor but convincing demonstration of the theory that a literary form such as the novel develops irregularly, by fits and starts, and of the truism that a superior mind can produce superior results with the most seemingly ungrateful materials. Of Defoe, Olinda's Adventures must appear a modest precursor indeed; but measured, as a realistic domestic novel, against the English fiction of its day, it is surprisingly mature; and if we believe the bookseller and assign its authorship to a girl of fourteen, we must look to the juvenilia of Jane Austen for the first comparable phenomenon.

Olinda's Adventures seems to owe what success it had entirely to the bookseller Samuel Briscoe. It appeared in 1693 in the first volume of his epistolary miscellany Letters of Love and Gallantry and Several Other Subjects . All Written by Ladies , the second volume following in 1694.[2] It may have been the nucleus of the collection, however, since it begins the volume, and since Briscoe states in "The Bookseller to the Reader" (sig. A2) that various ladies, hearing that he was going to print Olinda's letters, have sent in amorous correspondence of their own a remark that could indicate some previous circulation in manuscript... Continue reading book >>

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