Published here for the first time in a modern edition, Charlotte Smith's third novel is both rivetingly plotted and unique for its time in its powerful depiction of a gifted Romantic woman poet. The novel's heroine, Celestina, abandoned as a child in a French convent, becomes an independent, witty, and accomplished elegiac poet who, in a reversal of the usual pattern of the courtship novel, acts as a mentor to several men in her life. Written at the beginning of the French Revolution, Smith's novel depicts characters challenging both corrupt authority and conventional morality, exemplifying her hope that English society was on the verge of a great change for the better. This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and primary source material relating to the novel's reception, its political contexts (writings by Reverend Richard Price, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Thomas Paine), and the author's life.
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