Something New

Broadview Press, 1996 M09 9 - 349 páginas

To be a heroine is to be beautiful—such has been the unstated assumption from the time of chivalric romance to that of Harlequin romance. But this ideology of ‘the beauty myth’ was challenged as early as 1801 with the publication of this extraordinary epistolary novel-romance.

Something New explores sexual roles and questions with subtlety and astonishingly modern insight the prevailing ‘rights’ of men over women, and their respective attitudes towards one another. The book explores how issues of beauty, femininity and self-support are central to the main character, Olivia, and her suitor Lionel. Lionel, who has always been ‘the devoted slave of beauty,’ becomes convinced that marriage to the ‘proverbially plain’ Olivia will lead them to ‘a little paradise on earth.’ Do they attain this paradise? The resolution to this romance retains the power to surprise the reader as much today as it did when Something New was first published.


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Deborah McLeod currently a doctoral candidate in English Literature at the University of Alberta, is a specialist in Romantic fiction and late eighteenth-century women novelists.

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