- The Selected Works of Delarivier Manley
Pickering has now brought all of Delarivier Manley's works (with the exception of some occasional poems and her dedications) into print as scholarly editions. This five-volume Selected Works excludes only her two plays of 1696, which appear in the first volume of a 2001 Pickering multivolume set under the general editorship of Derek Hughes entitled Eighteenth-Century Women Playwrights: The Lost Lover and The Royal Mischief. As there, the editorial principle of taking the earliest available edition as copy-text is applied, except in one case where it seems likely that Manley herself was involved in the many corrections to the second edition of the first volume of the 1711 Memoirs of Europe. Hitherto, Manley's works have appeared in piecemeal form from different publishers. Gainesville published a two-volume facsimile of her major novels edited by Patricia Köster in 1971, Faber and Faber selections from her autobiographical writings edited by Fidelis Morgan in 1986, Broadview her fictional autobiography The Adventures of Rivella edited by Katharine Zelinsky in 1999, Ashgate a facsimile collection of some early plays and poems edited by Stephanie Hodgson-Wright in 2006. Pickering might legitimately claim to have set the recent ball rolling (if a relatively small and slow-moving one) with the publication of an edition of the work with which her name was associated in her own time, The New Atalantis (1709), edited by me in 1992, as one in the series entitled Pickering Women's Classics (later reprinted by Penguin Classics). The standard of editing, extent of modernization and silent correction, was variable between these different publications and made it difficult to acquire a sense of a literary/political career or the distinctive "flavor" of Manley's breathless, comma-crammed, prose.
In the third canto of The Rape of the Lock of 1712, the triumphant baron who has succeeded in snipping Belinda's lock cries out:
As long as Atalantis shall be read, Or the small pillow grace a Lady's bed, While visits shall be paid on solemn days, When num'rous wax-lights in bright order blaze, While nymphs take treats, or assignations give, So long my honour, name, and praise shall live!.(lines 165–70)
Very soon after the first appearance of the New Atalantis—and when its overt satirical political references to the Whig grandees of Anne's reign would have been instantly recognizable to its readers—Pope was contributing to the tradition that presents Manley as a writer of warm erotic scenes. The rhyme of "read" with "bed" confirms the association of readerly and sexual pleasures that Manley herself exploited only two years later in her autobiography Rivella. Here, the narrator Lovemore leads his eager protégé, D'Aumont, in an imaginary passage from Manley's writings to her table, to her bed "nicely sheeted and strow'd with flowers" and a "Pillow neatly trim'd with Lace or Muslin" (4:57–8).
The editors of the Selected Works are keen to restore the political rather than the erotic Manley to posterity, to ensure that Atalantis be read alongside Manley's other works to "allow scholars to study in a comprehensive fashion Manley's [End Page 512] development as a writer and political critic" (5:3). And this they do achieve. The general introduction, the editorial introductions prefixed to each individual work, and the editorial notes provide clear summaries of the political moment in which the works were published and the political events to which they allude. A new glossary provided at the end of the fifth volume builds on and replaces the identificatory work undertaken by Patricia Köster in her 1971 two-volume The Novels of Mary Delarivier Manley. The editors have used a variety of contemporary, separately published keys to identify a large number of the political figures referred to under pseudonyms in Manley's texts. These prove especially useful in locating a historical personage referenced in more than one text. One...