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HUMANITIES 163 Frances Brooke. The History of Emily Montague. Edited by Mary Jane Edwards Carleton University Press. lxxi, 459· $8.95 paper This is the third Canadian edition of Frances Brooke's History of Emily Montague in this century. The first was the Graphic Press edition of 1931The second, the McClelland and Stewart NCL paperback edition of 1961, coinciding with a resurgence of interest in Canadian literature and graced with an excellent introduction by the literary historian Carl F. Klinck, made the novel accessible to students and the reading public and led to its indusion in courses on the Canadian novel. Frances Brooke was an established literary figure (she had already published a periodical, a tragedy, and a novel) when she came to Quebec in 1763 to join her husband, a chaplain with the British forces in Quebec. She took advantage of her situation to write a novel set mainly in the new colony, astutely combining the characteristics of the sentimental novel and the travel journal, interweaving the ups and downs of three romances with description of the landscape and climate and life of Quebec. The novel's epistolary method owes less to the influence of Samuel Richardson than does Brooke's first novel, The History of Lady Julia Mandeville (1763). ·It comprises not the chapter-length screeds to which readers were accustomed but much shorterletters. Two or three conversational exchanges consisting of only a few lines may take place in a single day. This different epistolary technique lends realism to events and spontaneity to the reactions of the characters, and allows for effective dramatic irony. It involves the reader in the immediate present of the protagonists rather than their retrospection. The epistolary dialogues reflect Brooke's real ambition, to write for the theatre, and doubtless contain remarks and observations akin to those in letters between Brooke and her sister in Sillery and their friends in Quebec. Emily's conventionally sentimental lover, Ed Rivers, and her lively and astute confidante, Arabella Fermor, write many of the novel's letters. Both contribute their observations of the Quebec scene - its people, religion, social activities, climate, and landscape. Arabella's letters effectively counterpoint Ed's more serious observations, just as her wit acts as a foil for Emily's sensibility. Ed in his comments on women and Arabella in her attitude and behaviour express the author~s feminist views on such topics as the education of women, their unjust exclusion from political activity, freedom of choice in marriage, and divorce. Today's readers ofthe novel admire its wit, its feminism, itssophisticated epistolary technique, and its metonymic use of landscape. In its day, its description'of the climate and landscape of the new colony, along with its sentimental hero and heroine and Arabella's attractive personality, resulted in a publishing success. By the 1790S there had beenfour editions published in London and three in Dublin. The novel became required reading for travellers to Canada. In Quebec, it was viewed as something of a roman Ii clef, with a handsome young officer and the spirited young wife of a local merchant generally perceived as the models for Ed Rivers and Arabella Fermor. This scholarly edition is the first publication of the Centre for Editing Early Canadian Texts at Carleton University. This landmark project, the first for the editing of English-Canadian literary texts, has five additional texts in progress, two of which are in press. Since 1981 it has received funding of upwards of $500,000 from SSHRCC. The text's scholarly apparatus includes an introduction by the editor, Mary Jane Edwards, which for the most partdiscusses the Brookes'slife in Canada; a bibliographical description of the Dodsley edition, which was the copy text for this edition; a list of other editions and translations; a list of emendations; and explanatory notes which identify the sources of quotations and allusions as well as real persons and actual events referred to in the text. This edition is an excellent quality paperback, with a moderate price which puts it within the reach of students. Edwards is General Editor of the series as well as editor of this volume. She has given her colleagues in the project a superb...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 163-164
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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