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Mary: A Fiction (version 2)

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By: (1759-1797)

Mary: A Fiction, published in 1788, is a tragic story that decries marriages not based on love. It can be considered an example of feminist fiction.

Mary's parents are in a loveless marriage. As the second-born, female child, she is neglected; her education is self-directed from books, nature, and her own inclinations. Her inclinations, however, are towards genius and religion. Mary becomes the heiress of her parents' fortune when her brother dies. To keep the family property together due to litigation, her parents marry her to a boy she has never met. After the ceremony, he goes to the Continent, and Mary devotes herself to her weak, sickly friend, Ann.

She is disgusted with the thought of living with her husband - a weak, shallow man. Strong love for Ann, love for a "better" man, religion, and benevolence support Mary through a life on the run from conventional duty.

First Page:

Transcriber's note: The author is Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 1797).


A Fiction

L'exercice des plus sublimes vertus éleve et nourrit le génie. ROUSSEAU.

London, Printed for J. Johnson, St. Paul's Church Yard.



In delineating the Heroine of this Fiction, the Author attempts to develop a character different from those generally portrayed. This woman is neither a Clarissa, a Lady G , nor a[A] Sophie. It would be vain to mention the various modifications of these models, as it would to remark, how widely artists wander from nature, when they copy the originals of great masters. They catch the gross parts; but the subtile spirit evaporates; and not having the just ties, affectation disgusts, when grace was expected to charm.

Those compositions only have power to delight, and carry us willing captives, where the soul of the author is exhibited, and animates the hidden springs. Lost in a pleasing enthusiasm, they live in the scenes they represent; and do not measure their steps in a beaten track, solicitous to gather expected flowers, and bind them in a wreath, according to the prescribed rules of art... Continue reading book >>

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