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In Count de Vinevil and Lucinda, Penelope Aubin maps queer experiences among women onto her consideration of nascent British imperialism in order to protest and expose the limits of expansionist conservative discourses. Treating Aubin's texts as an occasion for reimagining literature's role in producing alternative modes of imperial and libidinal desire, I claim that, like many Tory women writers of her time, Aubin's convoluted narrative structure purposefully matches the complications of sociopolitical reality. Aubin moves from a critique of patriarchal mercantilism in Vinevil to what I call a queer critique of triumphalist epistemologies and imperialism in Lucinda. Far from being small steps on the way to the modern novel, Aubin's experimental writings represent brave attempts to redefine eighteenth-century womanhood and shape more inclusive British worlds. [End Page 199]

A novelist, poet, translator, and playwright, Penelope Aubin (1679?-1738) is receiving increasing attention in eighteenth-century studies. Her prose fiction, which was popular during her own lifetime but then fading from view for some years, has lately become important to scholars interested in genealogies of the novel and formal technologies of the early novel.1 This special edition of Eighteenth-Century Fiction offers an occasion to look at how Aubin uses the novel politically. I will examine how Aubin narrativizes cosmopolitan and tropicopolitan figures, exploring the ways in which these figures embody and enact what I call queer critiques of nascent British imperialism.2

Between 1721 and 1728, Aubin published seven novels in which she depicts the intimate relationship between mercantilism and imperialism and in which slavery is endlessly possible. In these novels, forms of personal identity are remarkably, even comically, fluid. Black slaves are presented as natural friends and allies of European Christians; "Indians" are indistinguishably Japanese or Mexican, but speak Chinese.3 Following their husbands who wish to trade and make a profit in foreign countries, western European women leave their home countries disguised as men and express sexual desire for Turkish women. Aubin's fiction, like many narratives written in the first half of the eighteenth century, is invested in examining the relationship between geography and identity. This investment invites literary scholars to reconsider a number of questions concerning cosmopolitanism and nationalism and their impact on social categories of identity. How do we interpret a cross-dressing woman who travels from a Western to an Eastern metropole? What are the economic, erotic, and [End Page 200] ontological consequences—or possibilities—of abandoning one nation for another? How does literary form itself, particularly the novel, represent and produce material and metaphorical spaces in which alternative sexualities are imagined and regulated in the interest of empire-building? And finally, to invoke Richard Philips, how does literature, specifically the early novel, push us to think geographically about empire and sexuality?4

Although early criticism depicts Aubin and her work as strictly pious and interested solely in restoring and preserving the religiously inflected moral fibre of English society during the 1720s, more recent work on Aubin complicates the author's treatment of piety as well as its relation to social issues of the time.5 Debbie Welham's article "The Particular Case of Penelope Aubin" confirms that Aubin was neither a practising Catholic nor a preacher; that she attended Huguenot churches for family events only; that she was English, not French; and that she was the first woman known to have addressed the Freemasons at the request of their grandmaster.6 Joel Baer's work reveals that Aubin participated in merchant trading, enjoyed modest mercantile success prior to her career as a writer, and "had first-hand knowledge of the 'Madagascar Men,' British seamen who formed settlements on Madagascar (ca. 1690-1730)."7 Welham and Baer demonstrate that [End Page 201] some scholars have relied on misguided inferences about Aubin's religious identity and her role in public, as a female writer; as a number of feminist scholars have persuasively argued, the cultural "marketplace" was much more male-dominated in rhetoric than in reality.8 Other scholars also offer luminous reassessments of Aubin and her oeuvre. Sarah Prescott, for example, reads Aubin in light of the early eighteenth-century literary marketplace and claims that the author used her moral didacticism as a marketing strategy. Aparna Gollapudi uses Aubin as an occasion to re-examine the relationship between gender and travel narrative, while Chris Mounsey identifies the queer moments in Aubin's texts that emerge as a result of heroines travelling to distant shores.9 In various ways, these scholars address Aubin's position on issues such as gender and travel, and therefore private and public space; slavery and its relationship to race, religion, and sexuality; and gender and the literary marketplace of the 1720s. But there has not yet been a sustained consideration of the ways in which Aubin's conflicted stances on these issues compose a position on imperialism.

In this article, I synthesize existing scholarship on Aubin in order to explore how the author's treatments of gender, mercantilism, and slavery constitute, to some extent, a critical position on empire in general and the growing British Empire in particular. As historians such as Kathleen Wilson, David Armitage, and Michael J. Braddick [End Page 202] have shown, imperialism has never been organized around a single issue, but relies on multiple, dynamic social positions.10 I examine two novels, Count de Vinevil (1721) and Lucinda (1721), in order to consider the formal methods that Aubin uses to both reproduce and destabilize imperialism in her representation of the Ottoman Empire.11 In Count de Vinevil, Aubin employs classical allusion to critique patriarchal mercantilism and its relationship to empire. She introduces an alternative to masculine discourses of colonization by refusing to render geographical sites of empire as feminine landscapes to be ravished and tamed by men. Although the novel is complicit in the logic of colonization and empire, the narrative manages to destabilize the patriarchal paradigms that typically reinforce colonial and imperial power relations in fiction and travel literature. In Count de Vinevil, Aubin performs critical revisions of masculinist discourses, while at the same time marking the limits of these revisions.

Aubin further develops this critique in Lucinda, where she uses queer experiences among women to generate an inquiry into the state of empire. In so doing, she demonstrates how queer modes of desire can confuse and interrupt heterosexual paradigms that support fictions of empire, even if she simultaneously exposes the limits of such a critique.12 While enslaved in Turkey, Lucinda expresses queer desire and comes to embody a subject position that Srinivas Aravamudan calls "tropicopolitan." From this position, Lucinda turns her queer desire into a literal fiction, one that [End Page 203] allows her to occupy a "literary interzone," which Greg Mullin defines as a place that is "suspended between nations, cultures, and languages" and one of "intermediacy and ambiguity, a place that remains outside standard narratives of nationhood and identity." 13 Lucinda's experience within this space forms Aubin's review of colonialism and empire. But the critique itself exposes its own limits, as the first-person perspective of Lucinda reinscribes Aubin's heroine in a dominant and colonial subject position. Like Aphra Behn and many other Tories who renegotiated their values to accommodate the ideologies of the emerging middle class, Aubin struggles to reconcile her divided sympathies.14

I treat Aubin's novels as an occasion for reimagining the role of literature in representing and producing alternative modes of desire, and exploring how these modes work alternately to reproduce and dismantle masculinist conceptions of colonialism and empire. The novel, I argue, was the most appropriate genre for Aubin to use to disseminate these representations. Although Aubin started her literary career as a poet,15 and appeared relatively content with the political situation during Queen Anne's [End Page 204] reign, after the coronation of George i she began both to write novels and to take issue with the country's activity overseas. Seeing the potential in the early novel's experimental form, she used interpolated tales within her narratives to express her more provocative sensibilities, which would have compromised her reputation had she expressed them in direct-address poetry. Aubin's convoluted plots and complex narrative structure match the complex reality that she was trying to represent and question.

Count de Vinevil

The Strange Adventures of the Count de Vinevil and His Family (1721) arrived in the literary marketplace during a period of relative political tranquility in England. The previous twenty years were marked by constant anxiety over the country's engagement in the War of the Spanish Succession, which ended, at least for Great Britain and the Netherlands, in 1713 with the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht. But Aubin's narrative begins in 1702, a year that would have signalled to her readers three important events in English history: the death of William iii, the subsequent coronation of Queen Anne, and declaration of war on France by England, Holland, and the Holy Roman Empire.

Aubin was familiar with classical sources; at the very least, we know that she read Virgil, Alexander Pope's translations of Homer, and Horace's Epistles. And as Welham has already demonstrated, Aubin often alludes to these sources in order to comment indirectly on eighteenth-century social and political events.16 The epigraph that Aubin places at the beginning of her novel comes from book 1 of Virgil's Aeneid and embodies the author's conflicted stance on war and empire, particularly the growing British Empire: "Si genus humanum et mortalia temnitis arma / at sperate deos memores fandi atque nefandi."17 Aubin lifts these lines from Ilioneus's speech to Dido, in which, after being shipwrecked by irate Juno, [End Page 205] he begs the Carthaginian queen to permit him and his ruined crew to enter her country. He declares that they have arrived unarmed and without violence in their hearts, that they have not come to rape or to plunder Libyan homes.18 When we consider that most of the events in Aubin's novel unfold in Constantinople, the major metropolis of the Ottoman Empire, Aubin's use of Virgil and this passage in particular is loaded with political baggage. The epigraph presents a position of peace, benevolence, and tolerance, with Aubin using her opening text to convey an anti-war and anti-imperial sentiment. After all, Ilioneus declares that he and his crew are unarmed and have no intention of conquering Carthage. But Virgil's epic, as Aubin's learned readers would have known, was appropriated by the Roman Empire to celebrate and legitimate its imperial conquests and domination. The epigraph, then, functions as a witty political equivocation. Aeneas, who comes with Ilioneus, is Trojan and therefore arguably an Ottoman figure (Troy was in Anatolia); he eventually leaves Carthage to become the pre-ancestor of Rome. With these two lines, Aubin asks her readers to maintain a temporal and spatial dialectic, and from this destabilizing manoeuvre the possibility of a critique of both orientalism and imperial conquest emerges. Constantinople, while it may have been conquered by the Ottomans in 1453, has always been a plural space that cannot be fully possessed by any single political entity and in which multiple identities—national, religious, ethnic, gender, and sexual—emerge, collide, and evolve.

In her preface to The Life of Madam de Beaumont (1721), Aubin depicts herself as a staunch Anglican who deplores the idea of Englishness compromised by the convergence of identities in imperial capitals. Writing to "true-born English, and Antient Britons," she claims that Foreigners, who cannot speak English, "bring more Vices than Ready Money along with them," and that as a result of London's diverse population, the English have "exceeded the French in extravagant Whimseys," "grown false as Jews in Trading," and surpassed the "Turks and Italians in Lust."19 Like [End Page 206] Mounsey and Prescott, however, I wonder how seriously we should take Aubin's prefaces as indications of her politics. Her comment about foreigners who cannot speak English was no doubt a jab at George i, who was constantly ridiculed for having never learned the language. Written in a satirical tone, Aubin's prefaces all convey a similar message: the island is morally bankrupt and needs to return to High Church Tory values. These epigraphs and prefaces alert readers to her providential plots, but, as I will demonstrate, the outrageousness of Aubin's narrative situations can be at odds with the moralistic frames. Like many other participants in print culture and the literary marketplace at the time, Aubin likely wrote for recognition and money. Her use of nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric, in addition to conveying her political position as a High Anglican Tory, probably served as a marketing strategy.20 On one level, then, Aubin endorses England's imperial ambitions, but there are indications that she remains conflicted, and the nationalist rhetoric in her prefaces, as well as her use of Virgil in Count de Vinevil, may even be ironic to the point of challenging ideologies—ethnic essentialism, racial purity, organic nationhood—that drive and sustain narratives of empire.

More important than nationalist rhetoric in Aubin's prefaces is her contemptuous account, in the body of Count de Vinevil, of patriarchal mercantilism and its impact on the material lives of women. One-third of the way into the novel, readers understand that Vinevil's insatiable desire for wealth and prestige forces his daughter Ardelisa to take extreme measures to protect her virtue and ensure her safety. Vinevil, "finding his Estate impoverished by continu'd Taxations, and himself neglected by his Sovereign, and no ways advanced, whilst others less worthy were put into Places of Trust and Power; resolved to dispose of his Estate, purchase and freight a Ship, sail for Turkey, and there settle at Constantinople, to trade" (9-10). He says, "In another Country we will try to improve that Fortune we shall never be able here to better" (15). After leaving his home country of France, accompanied by Ardelisa and the Count of Longueville (an orphan left in Vinevil's care and heir "to a considerable Estate in Picardy" [11]), Vinevil attempts to create a monopoly on the ports of Constantinople with his [End Page 207] desired European goods, and his lust for money and power puts his daughter's virtue and life at risk. Despite Ardelisa's attempts to remain discreet, "so many Bashaws, and Persons of Quality, came to her Father's to traffick for European Goods, that she could not avoid being sometimes seen" (21). Shortly after they arrive in the trading city, Longueville warns Ardelisa about the "curs'd Mahometans" and the danger they could pose to her virtue. "We are arriv'd at a strange Country," he says, "where we shall no more see Christian Churches, where Religion shows itself in Splendour, and God is worshipp'd with Harmony and Neatness; but odious Mosques, where the vile Impostor's Name is echo'd thro the empty Quires and Vaults; where curs'd Mahometans profane the sacred Piles, once consecrate to our Redeemer, and adorn'd with shining Saints and Ornaments, rich as Piety itself could make them" (17). His speech conflates Ottoman dominance with "infidelity," emphasizing the violent threat "Mahometans" pose to Christian objects. In particular, they threaten Christian women. He continues, "The Wealth we have brought with us, may perhaps occasion our undoing; but more, your Beauty, should some lustful Turk, mighty in Slaves and Power, once see that lovely Face; what human Power could secure you from his impious Arms, and me from Death!" (18). While Longueville depicts the Turks as sexually licentious, impious infidels, echoing contemporaneous western European attitudes concerning the Ottomans, he also indicates that Vinevil's lust for wealth and power will lead to their "undoing."21 Although he indicates that [End Page 208] Ardelisa's beauty would be partly to blame should she be raped, Longueville cautions that it is Vinevil's drive for wealth that will lead to unfortunate adventures. He asks the question that I think Aubin wants her readers to keep in mind throughout the novel: "Alas! alas! dear Ardelisa, what will our Father's Ambition and Resentments cost both him and us?" (17).

Aubin shortly provides an answer by forming a positive political program that Elizabeth Povinelli might describe as a politics of "thick life," in which the "density of social representation is increased to meet the density of actual social worlds."22 As a result of her father's mercantile pursuits, Ardelisa and her friends are confronted with an overwhelming number of precarious situations that play with race and gender in the contexts of travel, mercantilism, and imperialism. The number and nature of these situations, which when considered together are almost comic, show Aubin's readers the harsh consequences of patriarchal mercantilism. Contained within each episode are radical responses by the characters that demonstrate how imperial discourse produces its own frameworks for resistance and critique. Ardelisa and the family maid disguise themselves as men; Joseph, another family servant, "black[s] his Face and Hands like Domingo" the slave (40); and all three retire to the country for protection. Joseph, after murdering a Turkish slave who knows the location of Ardelisa, discovers Father Francis, a Christian priest, in a cottage in the woods, and he agrees to host and protect them. At one point, Mahomet leaves for the army. Osmin, a Turkish general, before determining whether Ardelisa is a boy or a girl, kidnaps the heroine and her servants, holding them hostage in his palace, "which was at the entering into the City" (64), or on the periphery of the metropolis. Joseph burns Osmin's palace to the ground while the latter is imprisoned in the Seven Towers, and Ardelisa lights fire to the seraglio (87). Father Francis listens to the confession of pirate-turned-hermit Don Fernando de Cardiole, by birth a Spaniard, who leaves Spain for Turkey, pillages the Venetian shores, and rapes women to gain favour with the Turks (77-81). Violetta, a Venetian Christian woman who was kidnapped by Turkish corsairs and who has already lost her virtue to Osmin, joins Ardelisa and her crew in [End Page 209] their escape. At each of these sensational turns of plot, Ardelisa and her group find themselves in dangerous situations, but these events lead to radical action and transformation. Ardelisa and her maid cross-dress, allowing them to transcend conventions of class and gender. Osmin expresses sexual desire without knowing the sex of his object of affection. A servant literally burns down a structure that embodies aristocratic power, and Ardelisa destroys the seraglio, the living quarters that demean and oppress women. Violetta joins the crew, a move that will allow her to recover from rape and to marry at the end of the novel. The goal of such dense representation is not to "produce a hermeneutics of the Self and Other, but to shatter the foundations on which a supposedly simple relay of apprehension has historically established a differential of power as a differential of knowledge."23

On their way to Venice, the group shipwrecks on the uninhabited island Delos, and it is within this segment of the novel that Aubin more systematically reproduces and critiques existent narratives of colonialism and empire. Delos was the island on which the Delian League, founded in the 5th century BCE to defend Hellas from a third Persian invasion, held their meetings, and Athenian imperialism eventually led to the Peloponnesian War in 431 BCE.24 Aubin certainly would have had access to this historical account because in 1629 Thomas Hobbes published a translation of Thucydides, Eight Bookes of the Peloponnesian Warre, which went through multiple editions before Aubin started writing novels.25 Aubin's decision to have her characters land on this particular island inspires readers to consider the [End Page 210] broad context of imperial history. Although we should not overstate Daniel Defoe's influence on Aubin, characters stranded on a desert island would surely also remind Aubin's readers of Robinson Crusoe, published just two years before Aubin's novel. Moreover, the frontispiece for Vinevil is an etching by John Pine, who also created the frontispiece for Robinson Crusoe. And, to dispel any doubt that Aubin offers a commentary on Defoe and his work, she refers to Defoe's novel directly in the preface: "As for the Truth of what this Narrative contains, since Robinson Cruso [sic] has been so well receiv'd, which is more improbable, I know no reason why this should be thought a Fiction" (6).

Aubin does not allude to Defoe merely to namedrop for marketing purposes, as William McBurney suggests;26 instead, she adapts the Crusoe tale to orient her own position on masculine conquest and colonization. Unlike Crusoe, a figure who has come to represent the modern subject of colonialism, empire, and patriarchy, Aubin's characters do not treat the island as a feminine landscape to be ravished and tamed.27 J.M. Coetzee's Foe and Michel Tournier's Friday, modern adaptations of the Crusoe tale, critique Defoe's patriarchal and imperial themes with varying degrees of success.28 But, as many scholars have already pointed out, writers were adapting Robinson Crusoe in similar ways from its first appearance, often by replacing the male protagonist with a "female Robinson." Betty Joseph, for example, argues that The Female American (1767) "transforms Defoe's castaway narrative into one of female self-fashioning and into a critique of colonialism at the same time."29 Ardelisa is not an Unca Eliza Winkfield, but [End Page 211] Aubin clearly flirts with the critiques that we do see narrativized in these female-centred travel narratives. Her characters begin by living "on what Provisions they had brought with them," and Joseph walks "daily up and down the Island" gathering eggs, which "the Sea-Fowl laid there" (99). In contrast to Crusoe's island, "Guns were useless" here (100), at least when they first arrive. For Crusoe, the gun is a primary instrument of colonial control. To establish his own economic order and guarantee his domination over that order, Crusoe wanders around the island with his gun and his dog, killing animals that have the ability to reproduce outside of his control. In addition to killing a few she-goats, Crusoe also slaughters his cat and her offspring once he discovers that she has delivered three kittens: "Both of my cats being females, I thought it very strange: But from these three cats, I afterwards came to be pester'd with cats, that I was forc'd to kill them like vermin, or wild beasts, and to drive them from my house as much as possible."30 As Rajani Sudan notes, "Poll the parrot ventriloquizes his master's language, the dog provides for his master's sustenance, the goats are husbanded for their flesh, but the cats are wild cards ... [they] pose a continual challenge and threat to the integrity" of Crusoe's reflections of his own domination.31 Crusoe's instinct is to prevent any reproductive act from taking place on the island that does not benefit him, and thus to secure his domination over the island.

Aubin's characters proceed differently. This is not to say that the men in Aubin's novel do not also kill animals for sustenance: they catch sea-fowls, rabbits, and finally a she-goat and her two kids: the "young ones they immediately kill'd, and feasted upon; the Dam they preserv'd for her milk, and the other Kid as a Treasure, when they could get no other Food" (101). Further, an East-Indian ship wrecks on the shore of Delos, providing food as well as "Barrels of Powder and Shot" (105). Although the [End Page 212] men do use the guns to shoot "Wild-Hogs" and "Fowl" (106), their stance differs drastically from Crusoe's. The relationship Aubin's characters maintain with the landscape is one defined by reverence. They respect the island as one that is honoured by Apollo and Artemis, the latter a figure representing virginity. Echoing Aubin's treatment of Ardelisa's virtue, they preserve the island's virtue in the spirit of Artemis, and in so doing enact a critique of colonial domination and patriarchal imperial conquest. Unlike the historical Greek use of Delos, Aubin's characters take care not to transform the island into a site of masculine conquest or empire.

And yet, like Aubin's use of Virgil, this is not a straightforward critique of colonialism and empire. If Aubin employs classical allusion in order to criticize colonial conquest, then her technique necessarily reproduces the imperial logic that it offers up for examination. An ambivalence can be seen in her representation of animal husbandry. Upon being rescued by Violetta's father, Don Manuel, the crew loads their items onto the ship, including the she-goat and its kid: "Ardelisa desir'd the Goat and Kid might be brought aboard, which she loved much, because its Milk had preserv'd hers and Violetta's Life; and therefore she resolv'd to carry it to France with her: So it was brought in the Boat, being grown so tame, it would follow Joseph like a Dog" (111). One reading of Ardelisa's desire to domesticate the goat might contrast the depiction of the goat as the colonists' maternal nurturer with the figure of Crusoe, King of the Goats. From that perspective, Aubin calls into question masculine conquest; however, as Felicity Nussbaum notes, "new ideologies of maternal affection and sentiment between mothers and children, conflicting with the nascent doctrine of feminist individualism, encouraged women to adjust to a domestic life compatible with the pursuit of empire."32 So, although a feminist reading might imply, correctly, that Aubin is critiquing masculine conquest, her terms—in this case, the emphasis on maternal affection—may remain bound by imperial ideology.

We cannot overlook how Aubin's use of classical allusion reproduces the logic of colonization and empire even as it reimagines it. If we continue to read this segment of the novel in light of [End Page 213] classical mythology, which Aubin encourages, then the goat may allude to two mythological goats: Amalthea, the goat foster-mother of Zeus, whom the King of the gods skinned to establish his absolute authority among Olympian gods, or Dionysos, a hybrid god often depicted as an antithesis to Apollo. An allusion to Amalthea would be in line with a critique of masculine conquest; an allusion to Dionysos, a god conceived of as both masculine and feminine, raises a series of meanings that call such a critique into question.33 Etymologically the word "tragedy" (derived from the Classical Greek word t.a..d.a) literally means "goat song" (tragos meaning "he-goat" and aeidein meaning "to sing"). There are many explanations for the meaning of the term, but some scholars claim that its possible derivation is from the tradition of winning a goat for singing and dancing the best performance at the Dionysia, in honour of Dionysus.34 The goat-song, or tragedy, thus contrasts with the figure of Apollo, the god of poetry and order. Since Delos was thought to be the birthplace of Apollo, a rival of Dionysos, if the goat does refer to Dionysos, Aubin is symbolically invoking order while domesticating disorder.

Dionysos was the twice-born son of Zeus. Perceived as simultaneously human and animal, masculine and feminine, young and old, he is the god of wine, intoxication, ecstasy, madness, theatre, and life-after-death. His worship was usually violent and bizarre. He represented a threat to the social order created by humans (civitas), and he was a force to be appeased through violent rituals of inversion lest he overthrow society. He was exotic and seen as coming from afar, but was also depicted as being innate in all human relations.35 In Aubin's novel, on the island of Apollo, the god of poetry and order, the realm of man had decayed (the island is uninhabited when Aubin's characters arrive), perhaps as a result of imperial conquest, and Dionysos [End Page 214] was running wild. The domestication of the goat is therefore still a form of colonization: the domesticated goat represents Dionysos appeasing man (or woman, in this case), as opposed to man revering natural disorder. And, at the end of the novel, order is indeed restored: the heroines return home, bear children, and thus, "Divine Providence," whom the heroines confided in, "try'd their faith and Vertue with many Afflictions, and various Misfortunes; and, in the end, rewarded them according to their Merit, making them most happy and fortunate" (138). Although the novel arguably offers a feminist response to masculine conquest and by extension to the relationship between heterosexual paradigms and imperialism, it simultaneously delineates the limits of such a reaction. In her next novel, Aubin turns to queer desire as a way to extend her critique beyond this limitation.


In The Life and Amorous Adventures of Lucinda, published anonymously in 1721, Aubin uses a narrative of queer female desire to assess colonial thought and empire.36 Lucinda becomes a tropicopolitan figure, employing a strategy that Aravamudan calls "levantinization," or a "strategic deformation of orientalism's representational mechanisms" that "enable subjects to fashion their agency from unpromising materials" or from "within orientalism itself."37 Lucinda moves through three levels of identification— eclectic relativism, assimilation, and metamorphosis—during her queer experience with a Turkish woman named Sabina. In his analysis of Mary Wortley Montagu's Letters from the Levant (or The Turkish Embassy Letters), Aravamudan argues that Montagu, during her experience in Turkey, and especially her experience among women in the Turkish bathhouses, only progresses through the last stage transitorily; the third stage becomes a "postliminal mode of reaggregation, a romance manqué that synthesizes a banal return home rather than a romance metamorphosis."38 Lucinda, [End Page 215] in contrast, fully metamorphoses during her experience with Sabina, and un-becomes a woman in the process. The decay of her femaleness mirrors the decay of the literal space—the Ottoman Empire—in which she experiences her queer desire. Lucinda's levantinization and her subsequent metamorphosis constitute Aubin's critical exploration of orientalism, masculine conquest, and empire.

Like Ardelisa, Lucinda ends up on distant shores where her virtue is tested by sexually licentious pirates and impious foreigners. Unlike Aubin's first heroine, Lucinda defies her father's authority at the beginning of the novel by eloping with her first lover, Charles. Before the lovers sail away from England, Lucinda is kidnapped by Alphonsus and then rescued by his nephew Lewis, who becomes her unfaithful husband. After Lewis has an affair with a French mistress (which leads to his murder), Lucinda meets Don Antonio, who asks her to marry him and accompany him to Spain.

Lucinda's agency does not take the form of "self mastery," but derives paradoxically from her inability to resist her husband's authority, and the disavowal of individual freedom frames Aubin's critique of imperialism. Through Lucinda's renunciation of an active mode of agency, we see a destabilization of what Povinelli has called the "autological subject," a figure that refers to "discourses, practices, and fantasies about self-making, self-sovereignty, and the values of individual freedom associated with the Enlightenment project of contractual constitutional democracy and capitalism."39 Aubin dramatizes this destabilization by cross-dressing her heroine. Two months after Lewis's death, Lucinda consents to follow her new lover, Don Antonio, to Spain. Shortly after she complies, her lover insists that she disguise herself as a boy: [End Page 216]

He acquainted me that the Spaniards were generally so jealous of their Wives, that any Gentleman who should allow his Consort the Freedom they permit in other Countries, or give them even the Opportunity to speak with any other Person, would be despised for their Folly and loose Oeconomy; and therefore that I might not be punished with this required Reservedness, or be censured for his Unwariness, or loose Conduct, he desired I would accompany him in this Voyage dressed in Men's Clothes; that being obliged to go by Sea, this would yet be the more requisite.40

To be sure, the need for this kind of disguise is the result of male homosocial rivalry: Don Antonio is worried that other men will vie to possess the newfound object he has worked so hard to obtain. Lucinda has nothing to do with the inception of this plan. Instead of attaining and maintaining agency by controlling her circumstances—Mary Astell points out in Some Reflections upon Marriage (1700) that "a Woman, indeed, can't properly be said to Choose; all that is allow'd her, is to Refuse or Accept what is offer'd"—Lucinda's agency derives from her inability to make a choice.41 Commenting on this brand of agency, Judith Butler writes, "The force of repetition in language may be the paradoxical condition by which a certain agency—not linked to the fiction of the ego as master of circumstance—is derived from the impossibility of choice."42 Language that is rehearsed within limitations allows the speaker to abdicate a mythological active subject position. Rather than attempt to control and master her situation, an objective that is consistently pursued by contemporaneous figures such as Crusoe and Moll Flanders, Lucinda abandons an active subject position when she allows her husband to dress her in men's clothes to travel to Spain. The "agency" that Butler refers to becomes visible when we see that Lucinda's rehearsal of certain conventions—internalizing and respecting her husband's authority—actually permits her to transgress those conventions without assuming responsibility.

Lucinda's disavowal of active agency acts as a critique of individuality, and by extension imperial logic. Shortly after Lucinda and Don Antonio board the ship to Spain, the heroine renounces [End Page 217] the narrative voice and hands it over to Don Antonio so that he may recount a tale he calls, "Conjugal Duty Rewarded; or, the Rake Reformed." As Welham points out, "Conjugal Duty" is an adaptation of Delarivier Manley's The Wife's Resentment, the third novel of The Power of Love in Seven Novels (1719-20).

Manley juxtaposes that novel with The Husband's Resentment, and in each narrative the spouse gets revenge. In Aubin's tales, however, the woman does not seek revenge (despite her family's efforts to kill her faithless husband), and, in the second interpolated tale entitled "Fortune Favors the Bold; or, the Happy Milanese," the husband never learns that his wife has committed adultery. Following Welham's point that "Aubin's stories focus on the power of inaction rather than action," I argue that we can read this passivity as characteristic of Aubin's brand of feminism.43 Through Lucinda's desire to share her narrative voice with others, we see that Aubin's form rests on a communitarian political logic that we do not see enacted in novels that privilege individualism. Although Lucinda is still present during Don Antonio's narration, she fades from the reader's consciousness as she slowly evaporates from the action. Fading into the background allows Lucinda to refuse to adhere to conventions of gender by permitting her to retreat from personhood altogether.

Lucinda's ontological makeup mirrors Aubin's narrative style: immediately after donning male garb, Lucinda questions her "essence" and ponders the performative constituents of gender— how "man" and "woman" are roles enacted through clothing and body gestures: "The Garb, I fancy, had inspired me with manly Resolutions; I had no timorous Thoughts, was resolved at least to counterfeit the young Hero, and applied my self diligently to attain their Airs. My Knees at first knocked too close together, and my Gate was too mincing; but Custom made me step more boldly, and in a little time I could strut and cock my Hat as well as the best, and force out a necessary Oath to adorn my Discourse" (52). Dressed as a man, Lucinda does not actively resist the skewed power relations of heterosexual gender identity; rather, she passively wears the clothing that her husband requires her to wear and listens to the story as a not-woman. Anachronistically, we could say that Lucinda occupies Marjorie Garber's "third" space, [End Page 218] which is not a sex or category but a "mode of articulation, a way of describing a space of possibility." The third, as Garber notes, "is that which questions binary thinking and introduces crisis—a crisis which is symptomatized by both the overestimation and the underestimation of cross-dressing."44 A space of possibility allows Lucinda to experiment with gender conventions, but it is also the source of a crisis for the men around her.

The presence of the interpolated narrative (in which a licentious rake reforms and is forgiven for abandoning his wife) and the shift in narrative voice motivates readers to become more aware of audience, performer, and context. The shift and the interpolation highlight the fact that the category of woman is performed by nobody in this scene, that it has been voided, which renders impotent all male expressions addressed to women, including apologies and excuses. The resulting lack of woman might remind us of Frances Burney's diary entries to Nobody, or Montagu's insistence that the Turkish veil was liberating for the women who wore them.45 The void empowers Lucinda. As a woman, Lucinda would be forced to accept apologies from repentant men who dishonoured, disrespected, and dismissed her entirely. While dressed as a man, she occupies a category of not-woman and is compelled to accept nothing. Her anonymity allows her to listen passively and to refuse (by not actively receiving) the narrative of male repentance, depicted by the "repenting wishing Bridegroom," that characterizes Aubin's interpolated tale (81).

Aubin's suspension of the figure of "woman" interrupts the narrative of individual agency. The woman who ratifies the rake's confession is not an individual in the sense that, for example, Robinson Crusoe is an individual. Crusoe's individuality is not predicated upon his maleness, but begets it: he becomes a man only after he comes to see himself as self-sovereign of his island. In contrast, Lucinda's individuality—and female subjectivity more broadly in early eighteenth-century England—are tied directly to her gender, which is inevitably defined in relation to male [End Page 219] address. Lucinda's un-becoming a woman is a renunciation of a certain form of individual agency, making Aubin's experiment with gender and her anti-individualist position one and the same.

In the segment of the novel in which Lucinda is sold into slavery in Turkey, Aubin links Lucinda's gender metamorphosis to a critique of colonial conquest and empire. The dismantling of her gender mirrors the decay of the Ottoman Empire itself, which is the context in which Lucinda experiences queer desire for the Turkish woman Sabina. As Nussbaum notes, at the beginning of the century, "the once large and powerful Ottoman Empire evolved into an unacceptable model for the emerging second British Empire, not only in its loss of political strength, but also in its highly suspect religious and cultural values."46 Turkey, as Nussbaum succinctly puts it, "constituted an empire gone bad."47 This may be why Montagu, in her description of Constantinople, emphasizes the burying fields and describes the city as a wasteland: "the burying fields about it [Constantinople] are certainly much larger than the whole city. It is surprising what a vast deal of land is lost this way in Turkey. Sometimes I have seen burying-places of several miles, belonging to very inconsiderable villages, which were formerly great towns, and retain no other mark of their ancient grandeur."48 Lucinda's shedding of particular forms of female identity corresponds to the stagnation and slow decay of the Ottoman Empire itself—the novel's refusal of it as a model for English identity—and through this metonymy Aubin destabilizes both heterosexual and imperial paradigms.

Lucinda's evacuation of the "woman" subject position leads to an exploration of queer desire and a deeper interrogation of what constitutes a female body in the first place. While serving as a slave to a Turkish widower, Lucinda laments for the first time the physical limitations of her female body—she lacks a penis— and how this body thus shapes, defines, and limits her sexuality. Shortly after Lucinda is sold into slavery, the widower's daughter, Sabina, expresses interest in Lucinda's male persona and gives her four Sultanoes to follow her into the garden, where she tells [End Page 220] Lucinda that she has "fallen in Love" with her (101). Rather than express anxiety about the possibility of engaging in a sexual act with a Turkish woman—or about the payment of money for sex—Lucinda's primary concern is that, although she is dressed as "a fit Hero," she does not have the necessary parts to please Sabina sexually:

Nature had made me uncapable to give her any satisfactory Return ... I could not hope to allay the Fury of her Desires with soft Words and innocent Caresses; she ran too great a Danger for her Satisfaction, to be rewarded with such trifling Joys: But where was the Possibility of returning more substantial Bliss... I am, thought I, a fit Hero, and likely to oblige a young blooming wishing Beauty in her first Passion, full of Curiosity and Desire; in what manner is it possible for me to acquit my self without provoking her Hatred and Revenge?


Lucinda's adventure at sea with Don Antonio, during which she appears to become a man, gives her a frame of reference that she uses not merely to pass as a man, but to perform masculinity so well that a seemingly heterosexual woman finds her attractive and desires her. This kind of scene was quite common in breeches-role parts written for the stage, but here, Lucinda can narrate the interior effects of the experience. Lucinda begins to realize that although she can put on a hat and wield a sword like a man, her physical body shapes and limits her ability to answer sexual desire: even if she wants to make love to Sabina, she does not have a penis to provide Sabina with "more substantial Bliss." All Lucinda can do is appease her object of desire with "soft Words" and "innocent Caresses."

Lucinda's anxiety about the absent penis is substantiated when we consider, as Mounsey does, that after Sabina's father passes away, Lucinda "describes washing the corpse starting with his penis."49 Instead of looking at the dead man's penis and wishing she had one to please her female lover, Lucinda's glance is at once a sign of lamentation and de-signification. She sees one that she cannot have and then begins to imagine otherwise. She un-thinks the penis and imagines a discrete alternative. From this perspective, [End Page 221] the scene is not an attempt to privilege the penis or its phallic authority. On the contrary, it is an endeavour to stage its death by attaching it to a corpse.50 Perhaps what Lucinda wants is not to have the penis, but to dismiss it through ritual mourning so that an intimate encounter between two women could be imagined without phallic sex. Lucinda's ability to imagine non-phallic intimacy with a woman is confirmed when she turns her queer experience with Sabina into a fictive tale (she relays it to Charles, ostensibly to arouse him). Lucinda treats her queerness—her strange desire—as an aesthetic object, which allows her to implicate it in a mode of meta-reflection. Rendering her queer desire as a fiction allows her to un-think herself and her desire: she and her desire become objects of reflection.

Lucinda's response to her "lack" and failure to please Sabina further illustrates Aubin's critique of individualism: by recasting the experience as a narrative, Lucinda yields agency to the fiction she tells—the object subsumes the subject. In so doing, Lucinda fully metamorphoses, and, when she returns home to England with her husband, the fiction in which she implicates herself perpetuates the metamorphosis. This corresponds to Aravamudan's definition of the tropicopolitan subject, one who "exists both as a fictive construct of colonial tropology and actual resident of tropical space, object of representation and agent of resistance."51 Once again, Lucinda destabilizes her own subjectivity, this time by telling, rather than listening to, a fiction. By transforming her experience into a fictional tale of her own design, in which she performs various and sometimes contradictory roles, and which is subsumed by Aubin's larger fiction, Lucinda demonstrates more clearly her desire to remain in oblivion—"she," whoever that may be, never really emerges out of these reticulated folds of fiction.

Like Scheherazade in The Arabian Nights, Lucinda turns to storytelling as a way to sustain a life—in this case, the life of her queer desire. Lucinda transforms her sexual failure with Sabina [End Page 222] into a fiction by turning it into a story to entertain her lover Charles: "And to divert his Melancholy, I entertained him with my Intrigue with Sabina, and her Passion for me" (115). When Lucinda encounters Charles while she is cross-dressed as a man, setting the episode of storytelling in motion, he is "transplanting some Trees" in the garden to make some "agreeable Shade" for his master (89). The "Shade" prompts readers to recognize the shade that Aubin is herself casting: we—the only witnesses to Lucinda's "Intrigue with Sabina" and to the desire and intentions behind them besides Lucinda herself—are denied the privilege of hearing Lucinda relay the story to Charles. Does she tell Charles about her sexual confusion and anxiety? The disappointment she felt when she realized she was Sabina's failed hero? The dead man and his limp penis? By offering more questions than answers, Aubin resists the triumphalist epistemology of the traveller that we see enacted in numerous contemporary travel narratives.

In some ways, the story that Lucinda tells Charles supports patriarchal heterosexism. She seems to intend to use lesbian sex to arouse him, depicting herself and Sabina as sex objects for his pleasure. This kind of pornography, in which women are sexual with one another without compromising their heterosexuality, was circulating in print during the early eighteenth century.52 A few decades after the publication of Aubin's novel, John Cleland introduced his own Charles, the beloved in the pornographic novel Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. But Cleland's Charles was not the audience for Fanny Hill's narrative, and perhaps Aubin's Charles, too, is not simply the consumer of Lucinda's erotic fiction. When we consider the segment's placement, we realize that Lucinda may not be trying to excite Charles, but rather to expose his own queer desire—she is toying with, not placating, his penis and the phallic authority he attempts to imbue it with. Like Sabina, Charles finds himself attracted to Lucinda's male persona before he knows it is her in disguise, and he gives her "a thousand surprizing kisses" (90). To avoid disclosing her identity and prevent him from embarrassing himself further, she continues to act like a man, thus bringing to the surface Charles's latent homoerotic impulses. Her performance simultaneously stokes [End Page 223] his desire and prompts his emasculation, or the "Melancholy" that she attempts to divert with her tale. Although Charles claims that Lucinda looks like herself—like his "most dear and faithless Mistress" (90)—Aubin clearly does not want her readers to know whether Charles recognizes Lucinda or not, but instead wants to further destabilize sex, gender, and heteronormative desire through the ambiguity of first-person narration. Had she wanted to clarify these categories, she could have written the novel in the third person, as she did her other six novels.

Lucinda's decision to ghost her queerness—her ability to see the unapparent potential of embodying Terry Castle's category of the "apparitional lesbian"53—does not in any way compromise its actuality or diminish its relationship to Aubin's critique of modern individuality. It is because of its transition into the "Shade"—the opaque nothingness, or to use Mullin's terminology, the literary "interzone" in which Aubin's critique is situated—that it can remain an effectual component of the novel's larger project of unravelling and un-mastering. As Castle notes, "within the very imagery of negativity lies the possibility of recovery—a way of conjuring up, or bringing back into view, that which has been denied. Take the metaphor far enough, and the invisible will rematerialize; the spirit will become flesh."54 Importantly, this conjuring is possible because Lucinda never discloses her identity to Sabina. Lucinda's final refusal to become woman—her refusal of individual agency in her insistence on remaining anonymous—results in a queer relationship with another woman that is self-perpetuating. Since Sabina does not know Lucinda's "true" identity, Lucinda will always be a man in her eyes, and our heroine can passively facilitate the illusion without a phallic instrument.

By keeping her "true" identity a secret from Sabina, Lucinda embodies and enacts a masculine and imperial subject position— she sees without being seen herself. Although the novel undermines individualism and its relationship to imperial power through a narrative of queer female experience, the narrative [End Page 224] perspective itself limits the full potential of the critique. As in Count de Vinevil, Aubin's own literary strategies—the ones that offer these compelling, sometimes queer readings of empire—at least in part reproduce the ideological frameworks that Aubin sets out to destabilize. But Aubin's work, in part through ideological ambivalence, demonstrates that empire itself is a kind of fiction, constituted through complex and convoluted strategies of representation. Aubin's work pushes us to reconsider the ways in which empire's fictions contain the possibility of their own critique. [End Page 225]

Edward J. Kozaczka

Edward Kozaczka is a graduate student at the University of Southern California. He has published on Jane Austen and Edgar Allan Poe, and he received the ASECS Catharine Macaulay Award for an essay on Penelope Aubin. He is currently working on a scholarly edition of Aubin's novel "The Noble Slaves."


1. For an account of Penelope Aubin's popularity, see David Brewer and Angus Whitehead, "The Books of Lydia Languish's Circulating Library Revisited," Notes and Queries 57, no. 4 (2010): 551-53. According to Brewer and Whitehead, Aubin's novels remained popular until the 1770s, and some were available from major circulating libraries. The Noble Slaves made its way to America: it was reprinted in Connecticut in 1797 and 1798, as well as in New York in 1800.

2. Srinivas Aravamudan defines a tropicopolitan figure as a resident of the tropics "subjected to the politics of colonial tropology, who correspondingly seize[s] agency through contesting language, space, and the language of space that typifies justifications of colonialism." Aravamudan, Tropicopolitans: Colonialism and Agency, 1688-1804 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999), 6.

3. For an account of Aubin as an anti-slavery writer, see Eve Tavor Bannet, Transatlantic Stories and the History of Reading, 1720-1810: Migrant Fictions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), esp. chap. 2.

4. Richard Philips, Sex, Politics, and Empire: A Postcolonial Geography (New York: Manchester University Press, 2006), 9.

5. For readings of Aubin as a pious writer, see William McBurney, "Mrs. Penelope Aubin and the Early Eighteenth-Century English Novel," Huntington Library Quarterly 20, no. 3 (1957): 260 <>; John Richetti, Fiction before Richardson: Narrative Patterns 1700-1739 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1969), 220; Roger B. Dooley, "Penelope Aubin: Forgotten Catholic Novelist," Renascence 11 (Winter 1959): 65-71; Janet Todd, The Sign of Angellica: Women, Writing and Fiction, 1660-1800 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), 50; and C.J. Barker-Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 64.

6. Debbie Welham, "The Particular Case of Penelope Aubin," Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 31, no. 1 (2008): 63-76. DOI: 10.1111/j.1754-0208.2008.00004.x My thanks to Debbie Welham for sharing with me her biographical notes on Aubin.

7. Joel Baer, "Penelope Aubin and the Pirates of Madagascar: Biographical Notes and Documents," in Eighteenth-Century Women: Studies in Their Lives, Work, and Culture, vol. 1, ed. Linda V. Troost (New York: AMS Press, 2001), 49. See also Baer and Welham's entry on Aubin in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, in which they assert that "Aubin was an astute businesswoman, and she assumed control of the family's affairs, particularly when her husband served in the army." Joel H. Baer and Debbie Welham, "Aubin, Penelope (1679?-1738)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; online ed., September 2010)., accessed 17 July 2012 DOI: 10.1093/ref:odnb/40524

8. See Elizabeth Eger, Charlotte Grant, Cliona O'Gallchoir, and Penny Warburton, eds., Women, Writing and the Public Sphere, 1700-1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Ros Ballaster, Seductive Forms: Women's Amatory Fiction from 1684 to 1740 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992); and Paula McDowell, The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics, and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace, 1678-1730 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).

9. Aparna Gollapudi, "Virtuous Voyages in Penelope Aubin's Fiction," SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 45, no. 3 (2005): 669-90 DOI: 10.1353/sel.2005.0028. Chris Mounsey, "'... bring her naked from her Bed, that I may ravish her before the Dotard's face, and then send his Soul to Hell': Penelope Aubin, Impious Pietist, Humourist or Purveyor of Juvenile Fantasy?," British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 26, no. 1 (2003): 55-75 DOI: 10.1111/j.1754-0208.2003.tb00261.x; and Mounsey, "Conversion Panic, Circumcision, and Sexual Anxiety: Penelope Aubin's Queer Writing," in Queer People: Negotiations and Expressions of Homosexuality, 1700-1800, ed. Chris Mounsey and Caroline Gonda (Cranbury: Rosemont, 2007), 246-60.

10. Kathleen Wilson, The Sense of the People: Politics, Culture, and Imperialism in England, 1715-1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). David Armitage and Michael J. Braddick, The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002). See also Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (New York: Routledge, 1995).

11. Aubin depicts the Ottoman Empire in The Noble Slaves (1722) as well; however, because Aubin's heroes in this novel are captured and imprisoned in Algiers and not Turkey itself, I will not provide an expansive reading of the novel in this article.

12. In this way, Aubin's work substantiates scholarship that demonstrates queer desire's effectiveness in dismantling normative imperial narratives. See Christopher Lane, The Ruling Passion: British Colonial Allegory and the Paradox of Homosexual Desire (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995); Joseph Boone, "Rubbing Aladdin's Lamp," in Negotiating Lesbian and Gay Subjects, ed. Monica Dorenkamp and Richard Henke (New York: Routledge, 1995), 148-77; and Boone, "Vacation Cruises; or, The Homoerotics of Orientalism," PMLA 110 (January 1995): 89-107. <>

13. Greg Mullin, Colonial Affairs: Bowles, Burroughs, and Chester Write Tangier (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002), 3. William Burroughs first coined the term "interzone."

14. Scholars have noted Aphra Behn's conflicted stance on slavery. Many argue that Oroonoko cannot and should not be read as "abolitionist." See, for example, Lucy K. Hayden, "The Black Presence in Eighteenth-Century British Novels," College Language Association Journal 24, no. 3 (1981): 400-15; and Moira Ferguson, "Oroonoko: Birth of a Paradigm," New Literary History 23, no. 2 (1992): 339-59. Daniel Pigg complicates these readings by attending to how the text itself exposes the limits of language and representation. In her attempt to "frame the unframable Oroonoko as discourse," Behn "challenges our appraisals of the text," and, therefore, the text resists overly simplistic categories such as "abolitionist." Pigg, "Trying to Frame the Unframable: Oroonoko as Discourse in Aphra Behn's Oroonoko," Studies in Short Fiction 34, no. 1 (1997): 110.

15. In 1707, Aubin published The Stuarts: A Pindarique Ode, in which she commented on the Act of Union; the following year she published The Extasy: A Pindarick Ode to Her Majesty the Queen, expressing delight in England's victory at Oudenarde. In 1709, she published The Wellcome: A Poem to His Grace the Duke of Marlborough, in which the poet remains ambiguous about her feelings towards Marlborough's return. See Welham, "Delight and Instruction? Women's Political Engagement in the Works of Penelope Aubin," (PhD diss., University of Winchester, 2009), 102. Welham argues that Aubin's epigraph implies that "things may not be quite as celebratory as they might appear." The first part of the epigraph quotes Horace's Epistles (verse 17, lines 33-34), and the second part is from The Doctrine of Morality by Marin le Roy, sieur du Parc et de Gomberville, a work that Aubin later translates.

16. Welham, "Delight and Instruction," 102.

17. "If you despise the race of man and deadly weapons, / nevertheless trust that there are gods who are mindful of what is right and wrong" (unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own). Penelope Aubin, The Strange Adventures of the Count de Vinevil and His Family (London: E. Bell, et al., 1721), 542-43. References are to this edition. See also Aubin, Vinevil, in Popular Fiction by Women 1660-1730: An Anthology, ed. John Richetti and Paula Backscheider (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 113-51.

18. "Non nos aut ferro Libycos populare Penatis / venimus, aut raptas ad litora vertere praedas; non ea vis animo, nec tanta superbia victis" (We have not come armed to lay waste to Libyan homes, nor to drag our plundered booty to the shore. There is no such violence in our hearts, nor such pride in a conquered people) (527-29).

19. Aubin, The Life of Madam de Beaumont, A French Lady (London: E. Bell, et al., 1721), v-viii.

20. Sarah Prescott claims that Aubin wrote her prefaces strategically for marketing purposes. Prescott, Women, Authorship and Literary Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 48.

21. See Linda Colley, Captives: Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600-1850 (New York: First Anchor Books, 2004), part 1; Christine Laidlaw, The British in the Levant: Trade and Perceptions of the Ottoman Empire in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Tauris Academic Studies, 2010); and Felicity Nussbaum, Torrid Zones: Maternity, Sexuality, and Empire in Eighteenth-Century English Narratives (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995). Edward Said argues that western Europe feared the Ottoman Empire and its subjects, that the Empire symbolized "terror, devastation, the demonic, hordes of hated barbarians." He claims that "for Europe, Islam was a lasting trauma." Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1978), 59-60. Daniel Goffman takes Said to task for over-generalizing: "Not only must one generally differentiate the attitudes of northern from Mediterreanean Europe, but those western Europeans who experienced the Ottoman Empire first-hand often regarded it with respect, albeit with some apprehension." Goffman, The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 5-6. See also Thierry Hentsch, Imagining the Middle East (New York: Black Rose Books, 1992), 81-118.

22. Elizabeth Povinelli, The Empire of Love: Toward a Theory of Intimacy, Genealogy, and Carnality (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 21.

23. Povinelli, 21.

24. See Thomas Martin, Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), 106-109, 114-16, 134, 150-62, and 206.

25. Thucydides, Eight Bookes of the Peloponnesian Warre Written by Thucydides the Sonne of Orolus Interpreted with Faith and Diligence Immediately out of the Greeke by Thomas Hobbes, Secretary to the Late Earle of Devonshire (London: Hen Seile, 1629). Hobbes describes Delos in a separate section: "The names of the Places of Greece occurring in Thucydides, or in the Mappe of Greece, briefly noted out of divers Authors, for the better manifesting of their situation, and enlightning [sic] of the History" (26). Joseph Pitton de Tournefort's A Voyage into the Levant was published posthumously in 1717 (English edition in 1718), and in it was a map of the island of Delos as well as illustrations of sacred temples. Aubin's publishers printed the English edition, so she could have had access to it.

26. McBurney, 246.

27. For interpretations of Crusoe's island as feminine, see Janine Barchas, "Crusoe's Struggles with Sexuality," Eighteenth-Century Novel 5 (2006): 93-116; Robyn Wiegman, "Economies of the Body: Gendered Sites in Robinson Crusoe and Roxana," Criticism 31, no. 1 (1989): 33-51 <>; and Joseph Campana, "Cruising Crusoe: Diving into the Wreck of Sexuality," in Queer People, 159-79.

28. J.M. Coetzee, Foe (New York: Penguin Books, 1988); Michel Tournier, Friday (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997).

29. Betty Joseph, "Re(playing) Crusoe/Pocahontas: Circum-Atlantic Stagings in The Female American," Criticism 42, no. 3 (2000): 318 <>. For more on female Robinsonades, see Kristianne Kalata Vaccaro, "'Recollection... sets my busy imagination to work': Transatlantic Self-Narration, Performance, and Reception in The Female American," Eighteenth-Century Fiction 20, no. 2 (2007-8): 127-50 <>; Laura Stevens, "Reading the Hermit's Manuscript: The Female American and Female Robinsonades," in Approaches to Teaching Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, ed. Maximillian Novak and Carl Fisher (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2005), 140-51; and Jeannine Blackwell, "An Island of her Own: Heroines of the German Robinsonades from 1720 to 1800," German Quarterly 58, no. 1 (1985): 5-26 <>.

30. Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, ed. John Richetti (1719; New York: Penguin, 2003), 70.

31. Rajani Sudan, Fair Exotics: Xenophobic Subjects in English Literature, 1720-1850 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 4.

32. Nussbaum, 24.

33. A possible source of the Dionysos myth for Aubin is William Congreve's libretto Semele, which was used in John Eccles's written opera in 1707 (never performed). Congreve cites Ovid as his source, although he changes Juno's character: instead of having her come down disguised as an old woman (the nurse), he has her disguise herself as Semele's sister.

34. See Patricia Easterling, "A Show for Dionysus," in The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy, ed. P.E. Easterling (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 36-53; and Oscar Brockett and Franklin J. Hildy, History of the Theatre (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2003), 13.

35. See Walter Burkert, Griechische Religion der archaischen und klassischen Epoche (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985), esp. chap. 3.

36. The title page states that the novel was published in 1722, but it appeared in October 1721. See the advertisement in Post Boy, 28 October 1721, issue 5035.

37. Aravamudan, 160.

38. Aravamudan, 162. See also Nussbaum, who argues that Mary Wortley Montagu's depiction of the Turkish baths in her letters is "an erotically charged vision" which has "affinities to homoerotic desire" and "Oriental sapphism" (140). Humberto Garcia does not read Montagu's experience in the bathhouses as a private expression of feminine queer desire; instead, he situates it within a larger social and political context to argue that her experience contains a subtle critique of English contract theory. According to Garcia, Montagu's consideration of marriage in this scene constitutes an effort to articulate an "autonomous site for subversive forms of female publicity, defined as both a Habermasian sphere of public debate/consumption and a Bakhtinian form of the carnivalesque." Garcia, "'To strike out a New Path': Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Mary Astell, and the Politics of Feminist Islam" (paper presented at the Southern California Eighteenth-Century Studies Group, Santa Monica, CA, 28 October 2010).

39. Povinelli, 4.

40. Aubin, The Life and Amorous Adventures of Lucinda, An English Lady (London: E. Bell, et al., 1722), 51-52. References are to this edition.

41. Mary Astell, Some Reflections upon Marriage (London: R. Wilkin, 1703), 23.

42. Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (New York: Routledge, 1993), 124.

43. Welham, "Delight and Instruction," 134.

44. Marjorie Garber, Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety (New York: Routledge, 1992), 11.

45. In her journal entry on 27 March 1768, Burney writes: "To Nobody, then, will I write my journal!" The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, vol. 1, ed. Lars E. Troide (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 2. See also The Complete Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, ed. Robert Halsband, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1965), 1:328.

46. Nussbaum, 136.

47. Nussbaum, 137.

48. Mary Wortley Montagu to "The Abbott ——," Constantinople, 29 May [O.S.] 1717, in Letters, intro. Clare Brant (New York: David Campbell Publishers, 1992), 141.

49. Mounsey, 69. From Aubin's text: "They laid the dead Body upon a Table, stripped off his Linen; they washed first his privities, and after that his whole Body with Water and Soap" (106-7).

50. I am aware that corpses sometimes have post-mortem erections. Renaissance artists often depicted the crucified Jesus Christ with an erection, and according to Edward Gibbon's account in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Muhammad was also thought to have had an eternal erection: "O propheta, certe penis tuus caelum versus erectus est" (O prophet, thy penis is erect unto the sky).

51. Aravamudan, 4; emphasis added on "fictive."

52. See Julie Peakman, Lascivious Bodies: A Sexual History of the Eighteenth Century (London: Atlantic Books, 2004), esp. "Sapphic Sex in Erotica," 195-200.

53. The apparitional lesbian, according to Castle, is the queer female figure that cannot be seen but yet haunts modernity. She is avisual and acts on presence through (or in) her absence. See Terry Castle, The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).

54. Castle, 7-8.

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