Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress

Overview

Roxana (1724), Defoe's last and darkest novel, is the autobiography of a woman who has traded her virtue, at first for survival, and then for fame and fortune. Its narrator tells the story of her own 'wicked' life as the mistress of rich and powerful men. A resourceful adventuress, she is also an unforgiving analyst of her own susceptibilities, who tells us of the price she pays for her successes. Endowed with many seductive skills, she is herself seduced: by money, by dreams of rank, and by the illusion that she...
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The Fortunate Mistress: or, a History of the Life of Mademoiselle de Bealau Known by the Name of Lady Roxana

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Overview

Roxana (1724), Defoe's last and darkest novel, is the autobiography of a woman who has traded her virtue, at first for survival, and then for fame and fortune. Its narrator tells the story of her own 'wicked' life as the mistress of rich and powerful men. A resourceful adventuress, she is also an unforgiving analyst of her own susceptibilities, who tells us of the price she pays for her successes. Endowed with many seductive skills, she is herself seduced: by money, by dreams of rank, and by the illusion that she can escape her own past. Unlike Defoe's other penitent anti-heroes, however, she fails to triumph over these weaknesses. Roxana's fame lies not only in the heroine's 'vast variety of fortunes', but in her attempts to understand the sometimes bitter lessons of her life as a 'Fortunate Mistress'. Defoe's achievement was to invent, in 'Roxana', a gripping story-teller as well as a gripping story.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Roxana is possibly Defoe's most fascinating story-teller and this, one of his most intriguing stories."--The Daily Telegraph

"Excellent introduction by John Mullan; wisely selected bibliography; full notes."--Robert C. Steensma, University of Utah

"The World's Classics edition of 'Roxana' is an attractive volume with a nice picture on the cover, and it seems to have been well edited by John Mullan. I especially like the map of Defoe's London. Unfortunately, I find 'Roxana' far less interesting that 'Robinson Crusoe' and 'Moll Flanders'.--Peter Wirth, University of Mississippi

"Excellent introduction by John Mullan."--Mary Paynter, Edgewood College

"The text seems beautifully done - striking cover, easy-to-read structure, and helpful intro and scholarship."--W.H. Reames, Jr., Erskine College

"A beautiful edition, a helpful introduction."--Archibald G. Coolidge, Jr., University of Iowa

"This is an excellent series and one of the best available editions of Defoe's last work. The introduction is extensive and helpful, a great teaching aid. Thank you for keeping this neglected classic available for us."--Carl Kremer, William Woods University

"Excellent notes and introductions - more useful in the classroom than any other paperback edition."--Allen Michie, Coastal Carolina University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780192824592
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/26/1996
  • Series: World's Classics Series
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 4.56 (w) x 7.31 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

John Mullan is Lecturer in English at University College, London.

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