A Note on this E-Text of Caroline de Lichtfield

I have placed this text on the World Wide Web because although it has long been out of print, and is not commercially viable, it is delightful to read as well as important for understanding the development of the novel, especially as practiced by women. I quote Joan Hinde Stewart, "it is a startling and funny narrative about female self-concern and sexual anxieties, a retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast." On the literary-historical significance of the novel, see Margaret Cohen, The Sentimental Education of the Novel and Joan Hinde Stewart, Gynographs as well as a group of other essays listed in my Bibliography. To experience its pleasures, you must read the book.

I have chosen the 1815 edition of Caroline de Lichtfield because that was the text that was available to me. It is the last text to have appeared and, as Montolieu remarks in her "Preface," represents her final intentions and last polishing of her text. In this preface she explains how Caroline de Lichtfield came to be misattributed to Georges Deyverdunn. The book appeared with the phrase Publié par le traducteur de Werther after the title: what the misleading phrase had been intended to convey was that Deyverdunn was the first publisher of Caroline de Lichtfield and the translator of Goethe's Werther. She also offers some reasons for her decision not to continue writing original novels but instead devote herself to translating the work of others -- with occasional forays into original work. Though I have not been able to reprint the staves, the reader should know that Montolieu prints the music she wrote for the poems inserted into the novel. The scholarly reader will probably also want to consult the earliest text (1786) and intervening editions, especially a second reprint of the novel in the same year (1786) which is misattributed to the "translator of Werther", but includes the significant phrase "Nouvelle édition, avec des corrections considérables". This second 1786 text was reprinted in 1788, 1794/95 and again in 1802. There is an 1809 text but I have not seen it nor any description of the text as a text.

I have included a biography of Montolieu, brief notes on the conscious source and on Thomas Holcroft's translation, and a working bibliography.

As to the text itself, I have attempted I have tried to make this etext edition as readable and searchable as I can. I have made the text on the screen easy on the reader's eyes by setting it into tables. Wherever possible I have followed Montolieu's divisions; when she did not provide any, I have followed her way of dividing the text by letters or turns in the story and have given each turn in the text appropriate titles whose words come from the section of the text the title heads. All the titles I have added appear in brackets so as to differentiate these added ones from those that appear in the 1815 edition of the text.

I have typed the text as closely to the original as cyberspace allows. When I have come across obvious errors in the original (e.g., "reconsance" for "reconnaissance"), I have corrected the text and indicated what I have done by a note following a parenthetical "sic" in the text itself. Within each volume, each section or document is linked to the next so that when the reader finishes (pp. 1 - 17) [Une retraite et l'éducation de Caroline], he or she need only click on the last word of the text of the section to get to the next (pp. 18 - 49) [La cour et le mariage].

I am delighted to be able to report here that my site and etext edition has been noticed and given strong praise in a review article which appeared in Eighteenth Century Fiction. I offer a copy for the reader's perusal. I responded on my blog (linked into the document. Here I'll answer just one caveate: it seemed to me obvious that Cottin and Montolieu are sister-novelists. Their work has repeatedly been covered in the same or similar studies (e.g., Joan Hinde Stewart's Gynographs) and both were directly influential on Jane Austen. Similarly I thought a study of the French influences on Fanny Burney an analogous one to the perspective which informs my sight, explicated further in my essay, "Jane Austen Among Frenchwomen."

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Page Last Updated 9 January 2003