restricted access Lewd & Notorious: Female Transgression in the Eighteenth Century, ed. by Katherine Kittredge (review)
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181 ular novelistic embodiments that contribute to these daunting abstractions. Readers uncomfortable with his book, not thosewhodisagreewithitstheoreticalapproach ,arejustifiedinfindingthebalance tipped too much toward the general and the abstract, and Mr. McKeon’s faith in totalizing too purely total. My only real quarrel with his essential, crucially important book is that it lacks a particularizing skeptical spirit. But perhaps in the end this is a matter of taste. John Richetti University of Pennsylvania Lewd & Notorious: Female Transgression in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Katherine Kittredge. Ann Arbor: Michigan, 2003. Pp. viii ⫹ 329. $59.50; $24.95 (paper ). Twelve feminist scholars examine what it means for eighteenth-century British women to operate beyond accepted cultural boundaries, ‘‘to supply’’ a ‘‘cultural context fortheeighteenthcentury ’s antitype of the ‘lewd woman.’’’ Just as conduct books provide a socially normative resource for eighteenth-century women, Ms. Kittredge explains, the ‘‘antitype’’ also attempts to regulate women’s behavior by defining ‘‘notorious ’’ in terms of stereotypes about women like the ‘‘whining spinster, the evil murderess, and the decaying prostitute.’’ With appropriate eighteenth-century taxonomic skill, Ms. Kittredge divides her collection into four parts of three essays each: ‘‘Transgressive Words,’’ ‘‘Transgressive Images,’’ ‘‘Transgressive Acts,’’ and ‘‘Transgressive Fictions.’’ However, readers might discover a more felicitous grouping by theme. For example , Susan Lanser’s ‘‘‘Queer to Queer’: The Sapphic Body as Trangressive Text’’ appears in ‘‘Transgressive Words’’ and ‘‘suggests that the Enlightenment projectoffixingsexualcategories was from the start an unstable and selfcontradicting enterprise,’’ a project with which Richardson’s Mrs. Jewkes may well have agreed. Elizabeth Hunt’s essay similarly finds the masquerade a ‘‘dangerous indeterminacy,’’ yet it appears in a different section, ‘‘Transgressive Images .’’ Ms. Kittredge’s framework thus seems occasionally ill-fitting because of theproblematicstatusofthetransgressive antitype, an irony she no doubt considered while editing the work. Because transgressive women by definition resist the culturally imposed gender taxonomy, contemporary women readers, as Ms. Kittredge notes, might find a strategy of ‘‘misreading’’ that enables ‘‘a feminine satisfaction with the disruption of the patriarchal status quo.’’ For example, Betsy Bolton’s fine essay, ‘‘Sensibility and Speculation,’’ discusses the satiric discourse and images surrounding Emma Hamilton, a fascinating woman unfortunately remembered mainly as the mistress of Horatio Nelson.Similarly , Patty Seleski’s important essay details the cruel murder in 1767 of the young servant Mary Clifford by her mistress Elizabeth Brownrigg, explaining that the mistress’s failure, in spite of the fact that she starved and beatherservants, was ‘‘not managerial but maternal.’’ The idea of women’s domestic rationality, together with the characterization of women ’s supervision of servants as essentially maternal in nature, requires, Ms. Seleski rightly concludes, delicate negotiatingby women of the middle classes. In ‘‘‘AKilling Their Children With Safety’: Maternal Identity and Transgression in Swift and Defoe,’’ Marilyn Francus argues that women who give birth to legitimate children are held up as role models (one 182 thinks immediately of Pamela II), while those who give birth to ‘‘adulterous or illegitimate children—like Moll Flanders, Roxana, or Swift’s ‘breeders’—are stigmatized as lusty, headstrong, unnatural, and monstrous.’’ Although many of the essays concern obscure texts, the book’s great strength is its broad context of the feminineantitype. The range of essays featuring solid scholarship and historical insight makes it a superior introduction. Stephen A. Raynie Gordon College INGRID H. TAGUE. WomenofQuality:Accepting and Contesting Ideals of Femininity in England, 1690–1760. Rochester : Boydell, 2002. Pp. xvii ⫹ 205. $85. Resisting the reductive pleasures of finding one-to-one correspondences between the prescriptive literature written for women and the descriptive works penned by those women themselves, Ms. Tague provides a vibrant account of the complex interplay between thedictatesof proper behavior and the nuances of lived experience. In particular, she draws attention to the inadequacy of the wellestablished separation of public and private spheres in the eighteenth century, with women obviously relegated to the private realm. Although the personal writings she reviews comment primarily on domestic matters, their female authors fully regard these matters as having public consequences. Conduct literatureoddly enough makes women’s private conduct a matter of public concern. Yet as Ms. Tague herself suggests, attacks on the concept of gendered spheres have already become something of a cliche ́, and her true contribution lies...