Montagu, Mary Wortley (Literary Criticism (1400-1800))
Mary Wortley Montagu 1689-1762
(Born Mary Pierrepont) English epistler, poet, essayist, translator, and dramatist.
The following entry provides recent criticism on Montagu. For earlier evaluations of her works, see LC, Volume 9.
Montagu is celebrated as a consummate writer of intelligent, witty, and frequently scandalous letters. Spanning the years 1708 to 1762, Montagu's correspondence is addressed to a wide variety of recipients and is considered remarkable for its versatility and range. By turns gossipy, philosophical, descriptive, eccentric, affectionate, worldly, thoughtful, and sarcastic, the letters share one common attribute: the forceful imprint of their author's personality.
Born in London to an aristocratic family, Mary Pierrepont (Lady Mary after her father became the earl of Kingston in 1690) as a child devised for herself a rigorous academic program, which included writing poetry and teaching herself Latin. While she was still in her teens the brilliant and beautiful Lady Mary captured the attention of Edward Wortley Montagu (usually referred to simply as Wortley), a politician eleven years her senior. Wortley asked Lady Mary's father for her hand, but the men could not agree on the financial conditions of the proposed marriage, and Wortley and Lady Mary eloped in 1712. Montagu spent the first few years of her marriage alone in the country while Wortley attended to business in London. Her letters from this period reflect her dissatisfaction with the arrangement and her husband's seeming indifference to her.
In 1715 Montagu joined Wortley in the capital, where his political career was flourishing. She moved with ease in prominent social and literary circles, counting among her many friends and admirers Alexander Pope. The following year, Wortley having been appointed ambassador to Turkey, Montagu went with him and their young son to Constantinople. There, displaying her customary curiosity and enthusiasm, Montagu studied Turkish life and language and wrote a number of letters detailing her observations and experiences to friends and acquaintances back in England. These later formed the basis of her famous Turkish Embassy Letters. Her visit to Turkey is important from a medical as well as a literary standpoint: noting the success of the Turkish practice of smallpox inoculation, Montagu (who had herself suffered from the disease in 1715) had the procedure performed on her son and, later, her daughter. Through this example and her anonymously published essay “A Plain Account of the Inoculating of the Small Pox by a Turkey Merchant,” she was instrumental in convincing her countrymen of the practical merits of the procedure.
Montagu returned to London in 1718 and for the next two decades presided over high society, which celebrated her sparkling wit and flamboyant behavior. Beginning sometime around 1728 she and Pope engaged in a bitter public quarrel that started for unknown reasons. Pope lampooned Montagu in The Dunciad and elsewhere, and she retaliated with Verses Address'd to the Imitator of the First Satire of the Second Book of Horace. Between December 16, 1737 and February 21, 1738, Montagu anonymously wrote and published nine issues of the periodical The Nonsense of Common-Sense, offering articles of various sorts, including economic analysis, social commentary, and fiction. Having met and fallen in love with Francesco Algarotti, a young Italian count in 1736, Montagu left her husband, her children, and her country in 1738 to live with Algarotti in Italy; the count, however, apparently had a change of heart and failed to meet her in Venice. Nevertheless, for over twenty years Montagu remained abroad, mainly in Italy. She returned to England shortly before her death of cancer in 1762.
As a female aristocrat, Montagu abhorred the notion of writing for print, and circulated her works primarily in manuscript. A few were published in her lifetime, however, usually without her consent. For instance, in collaboration with Pope and poet John Gay she wrote Six Town Eclogues, clever and defamatory satires of well-known society personalities. Montagu had no intention of publishing the work, but in 1716 three of the eclogues were pirated, with coy hints of their authorship, as Court Poems. The original grouping was later issued in Six Town Eclogues. With Some Other Poems. Aside from the anonymously published pieces in The Nonsense of Common-Sense, the only works Montagu intended for publication were Turkish Embassy Letters. The fifty-two letters in the collection are thought to be based in part on Montagu's real correspondence and in part on a journal she kept during her journey to and residence in Turkey. So great were their popularity when they were first issued the year after her death that successive editions were augmented with Montagu's other, private, correspondence as it became available. Among the series of letters unearthed and published by nineteenth-century editors were her letters to Wortley; to her sister, Frances; to Lady Mar; and to her daughter, Lady Bute. However, Montagu's complete correspondence was not available until Robert Halsband's definitive edition of 1965-67.
Despite the letters' history of piecemeal publication, the critical reception of Montagu's correspondence has remained remarkably stable and consistently approving throughout the years. As a result of the personal nature of her work, critics have commonly focused as much on Montagu's character as on her writing, describing the woman as well as the letters as intelligent, high-spirited, and somewhat hard-hearted. Not surprisingly, since they were revised and possibly augmented by Montagu, the Turkish Embassy Letters are generally considered her most accomplished. Since their first publication, the letters have been highly praised for both their style and their substance: witty, polished, and entertaining, they are also valued for Montagu's informative, accurate observations of Turkish life as well as her penetrating and remarkably unprejudiced insights into Middle Eastern culture.
At times Montagu has been found wanting in kindness, particularly in her social-gossip letters to Lady Mar, which have occasionally come under fire for their sarcasm and evident delight in scandal and slander. Still, this does not detract from the letters' entertainment value; indeed, it may enhance it. Critics have observed that while Montagu's letters are always unaffected and candid, they rarely exhibit deeply felt personal emotion—the notable exception being the series of emotionally abandoned letters to Algarotti. Overall, Montagu's letters are noted for conveying poise and self-possession, clearly having been written to interest and amuse, but retaining nonetheless naturalness and spontaneity. Above all, Montagu and her letters are celebrated for intelligence and wit, qualities that provide unity to her diverse epistolary subjects and styles.
Court Poems [with Alexander Pope and John Gay] (poetry) 1716
The Genuine Copy of a Letter Written from Constantinople by an English Lady … to a Venetian Nobleman (verse letter) 1719
“A Plain Account of the Inoculating of the Small Pox by a Turkey Merchant” (essay) 1722; published in the newspaper The Flying-Post; or, Post-Master
Verses Address'd to the Imitator of the First Satire of the Second Book of Horace [possibly with John, Lord Hervey] (poetry) 1733
The Dean's Provocation for Writing the Lady's Dressing Room (poetry) 1734
The Nonsense of Common-Sense. 9 issues. (periodical essays) 1737-38
*Six Town Eclogues. With Some Other Poems [with Pope and Gay] (poetry) 1747
Letters Of the Right Honourable Lady M—y W——y M———e: Written, during her Travels in Europe, Asia and Africa, To Persons of Distinction, Men of Letters, &c. in different Parts of Europe. 3 vols. (letters) 1763
The Poetical Works Of the Right Honourable Lady M—y W——y M———e (poetry) 1768
The Works of the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Including Her Correspondence, Poems and Essays. 5 vols. (letters, poetry, and essays) 1803
The Nonsense of Common-Sense, 1737-1738 [edited by Robert Halsband]...
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SOURCE: “The Veil of Romance: Lady Mary's Embassy Letters,” in Eighteenth Century Life, n.s. Vol. 14, No. 1, February 1990, pp. 66-82.
[In the following essay, Lowenthal argues that in the Turkish Embassy Letters Montagu romanticizes and aestheticizes Turkish women. “Such strategies,” the critic observes, “while appreciating Turkish women in ways previous travelers had not, also allow [Montagu] to gloss over and even to erase the genuine pain experienced by some women in Turkey.”]
In August 1716, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu embarked on an extraordinary odyssey. With her infant son in tow, she accompanied her husband, Edward Wortley Montagu, newly appointed Ambassador to Turkey, through various eastern European states, before stopping to visit the baths in Adrianople and then settling in Constantinople. Taking advantage of her privileged position as the aristocratic wife of an ambassador, Lady Mary gained access to realms entirely uncharted by earlier male travelers: she secured permission to visit the mosques, received invitations to the homes of prominent Turkish citizens, entered into the luxury of the women's baths, and dined with a high-ranking Sultana. Throughout the two-year embassy, she was treated with great civility and used her time to correspond, to see the Turkish sights (frequently traveling in native Turkish costume), and, she says, to learn the Turkish...
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SOURCE: “Lady Mary's Portable Seraglio,” in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 24, No. 4, Summer 1991, pp. 432-50.
[In the essay below, Lew maintains that Montagu's Turkish Embassy Letters are “powerful critiques of both Ottoman and British culture” and anticipate by over two centuries the work of modern feminists.]
In 1717, the Whigs sent Edward Wortley to Holland, the petty states of Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. His mission foreshadowed the goals of English foreign policy in the Levant until World War I: he was to negotiate peace between Austria and a declining Ottoman Empire and to protect British naval and commercial interests in the Levant. He expected to remain in Istanbul as long as twenty years; in fact, his ineptitude combined with reshufflings in the English Cabinet led to his recall after only fifteen months.
With him travelled his beautiful and brilliant wife, Lady Mary Pierrepont, who claimed to have been the first upper-class English woman to make the arduous overland journey to the fabled East. Upon reaching Adrianople, she wrote to the Princess of Wales: “I have now, madam, finished a journey which has not been undertaken by any Christian since the time of the Greek emperors.”1 Her journey, unprecedented as it is, pales beside her other accomplishments: the letters she wrote during her journey to and residence in...
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SOURCE: “Travel Narratives and Orientalism: Montagu and Montesquieu,” in Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms, Cornell University Press, 1991, pp. 30-74.
[In the following excerpt, Lowe compares the Turkish Embassy Letters to the “tradition of letters about traveling in Turkey,” and asserts that “Montagu distinctly sets herself apart from that tradition by criticizing the representations of women, marriage, sexuality, and customs” in the travel accounts of her male predecessors.]
Eighteenth-century portraits of the oriental world as an exotic, uncivilized counterpart of Europe were crucial enunciations of the discourses that produced representations of the European world as knowing, stable, and powerful. Travel literature performed these acts of symbolization for French and English culture; by figuring travelers in foreign lands encountering strange and disorienting customs and practices, the trope of travel allegorized the problems of maintaining cultural institutions amidst challenging othernesses, of establishing cultural standards and norms in the context of heterogeneity and difference. In this way not only did the literary theme of travel serve to express the eighteenth-century colonial preoccupation with land and empire, but also travel as a representation of territorial ambition became a predominant discursive means for managing a national culture's concern with...
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SOURCE: “‘Trash, Trumpery, and Idle Time’: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Fiction,” in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 5, No. 4, July 1993, pp. 293-310.
[In the following essay, Grundy examines Montagu's commentary on fiction—especially the new genre of the novel—throughout her poems, letters, essays, and other writings.]
Several different studies might be written under my subtitle. A full evaluation of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu as fiction-writer must await examination of her unpublished, unread romance writings. Another approach would involve enumeration and evaluation of the books she owned.1 In neither of these studies would the novel occupy the central position which it tends to assume in literary history. Montagu's writings span a rich diversity of fictional forms, but exclude the novel proper. In her library the new novel (to use a tautology) jostles for space with canonical works (her canon: non-fiction in Latin and several modern languages) and with often very obscure non-novelistic fiction in French and English. This essay will say something of her practice as a writer of fiction, and more about her acquisition of books, but it will focus on her criticism of the novels of the 1740s and 1750s. This project too demands an adjustment of critical viewpoint which repositions the canonical novelists into a less commanding position than we are used to.
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SOURCE: Introduction to Turkish Embassy Letters, by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, edited by Malcolm Jack, The University of Georgia Press, 1993, pp. vii-xxxvii.
[In this essay, Desai surveys the biographical background to the writing of the Turkish Embassy Letters,the circumstances of their publication, and the reception they received.]
At a gathering, in 1697, of eminent Whigs with literary and political ambitions at the Kit-Kat Club, Lord Kingston nominated his daughter Mary as their toast for the year. When the others objected that they had never set eyes on the candidate, he had her finely dressed and brought to the tavern. She had her health drunk by all present and was passed from lap to lap of the poets and statesmen gathered there. Her granddaughter, Lady Louisa Stuart, was often to describe this heady experience of being ‘feasted with sweetmeats, overwhelmed with caresses’, but went on to say, ‘and … what pleased her better than either, heard her wit and beauty loudly extolled on every side. Pleasure, she said, was too poor a word to express her sensations; they amounted to ecstasy.’1
Perhaps this was the experience that Lady Mary tried to match for the rest of her life, for she ramarked later: ‘I came young into the hurry of the world.’2 Not that recognition and adulation were handed to her on a silver salver. Although her birth, in 1689,...
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SOURCE: “Aesthetics and Orientalism in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Letters,” in Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Vol. 23, 1994, pp. 179-205.
[In the essay below, Bohls declares that the Turkish Embassy Letters“are perhaps most valuable for their apparent aspiration, however partial and intermittent, to actual cultural exchange—a condition of intersubjectivity whose necessary precondition is an acceptance of the ‘other’ as an intelligent, sensitive, acting self.”]
As a woman traveller, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was uniquely privileged. When she went to Turkey in 1716 as the wife of the British Ambassador, she was assured access to the upper echelons of Ottoman society. Her gender, in addition, gained her entry to distinctive institutions of that society which were off limits even to privileged men. Harems and women's bathhouses had already provided topics for prurient speculation by male travel writers, several of whom claimed to have visited them, although as Montagu pointed out, “'Tis no less than Death for a Man to be found in one of these places.”1 These fabricated portrayals of Turkish women were a key element of early Orientalist discourse.2
Though Edward Said's important study of Orientalism offers no detailed discussion of the phenomenon before Napoleon, late seventeenth-and early eighteenth-century British and French accounts of...
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SOURCE: “Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Historical Machinery of Female Identity,” in History, Gender & Eighteenth-Century Literature, edited by Beth Fowkes Tobin, The University of Georgia Press, 1994, pp. 64-85.
[In this essay, Campbell asserts that in the Turkish Embassy Letters Montagu “attempts to use her experience of cultural disjunctions to construct a voice that can speak of sexual desire and of aesthetic pleasure.”]
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu is known first to students of the eighteenth century not as the authorial voice heard in her many poems, essays, three volumes of letters, and a play; but as the satiric spectacle conjured in Pope's portraits of her in several of his poems. In his epistle on the characters of women, Pope's Lady Mary, under the name of Sappho, presents the scandalous spectacle of the failed or incoherent construction of a woman's outward beauty:
Rufa, [he declares,] whose eye quick-glancing o'er the Park, Attracts each light gay meteor of a Spark, Agrees as ill with Rufa studying Locke, As Sappho's diamonds with her dirty smock, Or Sappho at her toilet's greazy task, With Sappho fragrant at an ev'ning Mask: So morning Insects, that in muck begun, Shine, buzz, and fly-blow in the setting-sun.(1)
While Belinda's labors at her toilet in The Rape of the Lock are the decking of some kind of “Goddess” with...
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SOURCE: “Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's ‘Italian Memoir’,” in The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual, Vol. 6, 1994, pp. 321-46.
[In the essay below, Grundy contends that Montagu's unpublished Italian Memoir is “neither an inadequate fragment of autobiography nor a self-deluded venture into the role of romantic heroine, but an approach to issues of gender roles and gender tyranny, of silencing and disempowerment.”]
As is well known, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu lived for ten years in the then remote lake country of Northern Italy. During this time, 1746-1756, she saw almost no English people, though she read a large number of English books. She sent her daughter, Lady Bute, a stream of letters, the reflections and distillations of a lifetime's thought and experience. These letters, among her most often quoted, present a self-construction as sage and moralist: a sixty-year-old female intellectual, content to be marginal because foreign, observant both of national difference and of common humanity, savoring her independence of mind and behavior.1
The correspondence delineating this most Augustan portrait is in fact the only one of Lady Mary's correspondences not to show her in some transgressive or problematical pose. Her courtship letters were written in defiance of the social imperatives for an upper-class girl; letters to her husband early in her marriage...
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SOURCE: “Scolding Lady Mary Wortley Montagu? The Problematics of Sisterhood in Feminist Criticism,” in Feminist Nightmares: Women at Odds: Feminism and the Problem of Sisterhood, edited by Susan Ostrov Weisser and Jennifer Fleischner, New York University Press, 1994, pp. 44-61.
[In the essay below, Looser evaluates Montagu's reputation as a progressive and a proto-feminist.]
As with many women writers “found” by second-wave feminisms, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu has been held up as an exemplary model of womanhood. Montagu is frequently taught alongside her eighteenth-century British “sisters,” Aphra Behn, Mary Astell, and Mary Wollstonecraft, all of whom carved significant spaces outside of traditional feminine roles in their lives and writings. Montagu has not lacked a contemporary audience, her letters garnering space in The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women as well as The Norton Anthology of English Literature. The ways we read Montagu, however, have become increasingly complicated as of late. In recent years Montagu has served as a site of facile co-optation, critical angst, and feminist struggle. The locus of these struggles, I believe, is the applicability of the labels “feminist” and “progressive.” Is Montagu a feminist? Is she progressive? Both? Neither? These questions and their resulting conflicts challenge us—not merely to take sides—but to take stock...
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SOURCE: “The ‘Spectatress’: Satire and the Aristocrats,” in Lady Mary Wortley Montague and the Eighteenth-Century Familiar Letter, The University of Georgia Press, 1994, pp. 114-52.
[In this essay, Lowenthal argues that in her letters concerning the English social elite Montagu “attempts to work through [the] competing demands of class and gender … and to emphasize the impossibility of separating private from public behavior.”]
Upon her return to England, and without the “enlivening sun” of Constantinople, Lady Mary supplies her own brilliance in a series of satiric letters composed primarily during the 1720s and 1730s and sent to her sister and other aristocratic women friends. As in the Turkish Embassy Letters, she purports to be the detached observer of scenes before her: “As for my selfe, having nothing to say I say nothing. I insensibly dwindle into a Spectatress” (20 March 1725; 2:48).1 Yet her strategy in these letters is not to make the unknown familiar, as she did with the sensuous and exotic sights of a foreign culture, but to estrange the known. In this alternate form of journalistic reportage, Lady Mary turns her gaze to the customs of the English beau monde, and there she sees manners and customs, follies and foibles, equally remarkable: “I writ to you very lately (my dear Sister) but ridiculous things happening, I cannot help (as far as in me lies)...
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SOURCE: “Wise, Foolish, Enchanting Lady Mary,” in The New Criterion, Vol. 13, No. 5, January 1995, pp. 8-17.
[In the essay below, Epstein offers a survey of Montagu's life and career.]
Once, and but once, his heedless youth was bit, And liked that dangerous thing, a female wit.
“A passionate man,” said Stendhal, “is seldom witty.” Building on that aphorism, one might go on to say that a witty man is rarely handsome. A beautiful woman who, along with being witty, is also commonsensical is rarest of all. They do, however, turn up, perhaps every century or two. Such a woman was Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. She lived (1689-1762) in a cold and hard age, where beauty helped immensely, wit was a useful weapon, common sense a necessity, and only passion an embarrassment.
Lady Mary was born with every advantage, real and artificial, and a number of true disadvantages. One distinct advantage was that she was an aristocrat, the daughter of Evelyn Pierrepont, Marquis of Dorchester, afterwards Duke of Kingston. Her secure place among the well-born was a fact she never forgot, nor was she above using it against her social, if not intellectual, inferiors. Of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, with both of whom she had had a falling out, she remarked that they were “entitled by their birth and fortune to be only a couple of...
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SOURCE: “Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in the Hammam: Masquerade, Womanliness, and Levantinization,” in ELH, Vol. 62, No. 1, Spring 1995, pp. 69-104.
[In the essay below, Aravamudan examines the implications of the “levantinization” or “transformation of identity that occurs when an individual from one culture is psychically and physiologically absorbed into another” that Montagu demonstrates in the Turkish Embassy Letters.]
Forth rush the Levant and the Ponent Windes.
—Milton, Paradise Lost (10.704)
Based on a journey to the Ottoman Empire undertaken during the years 1716-18, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's travel letters were first published in their entirety in 1763. The author had died the previous year. Montagu's stay at Constantinople with her husband Edward Wortley who had been appointed Ambassador to the Subline Porte, provides the central focus of the travel letters. But as her reflections range widely across the culture and geography of the Eastern Mediterranean, a more inclusive title seems appropriate. Amongst various titles given to this collection by editors over the ages, I find that given by J. A. St. John in 1838, Letters from the Levant, During the Embassy to Constantinople, 1716-18, more suggestive than The Turkish Embassy Letters.1
“Levant” broadly signifies the Orient (more precisely the...
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SOURCE: “Instructing the ‘Empire of Beauty’: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Politics of Female Rationality,” in South Atlantic Review, Vol. 60, No. 4, November 1995, pp. 1-26.
[In the following essay, Sherman investigates the apparent anti-feminism of such works by Montagu as “A Satyr.” According to the critic, Montagu's harsh rebukes of female behavior are meant to reform women and are consonant with her view “that women can be rational, and belong in a public sphere defined by rational debate.”]
In her annotation of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's “A Satyr,” Isobel Grundy remarks that “As an attack on women, it stands out oddly among her works” (Grundy and Halsband 210). Even in the gossipy brilliance of Montagu's celebrated letters, Cynthia Lowenthal finds a certain reticence, noting that Montagu “is often surprisingly slow to censure” her sex (117). Yet while such observations favor Montagu's decided feminism, there are occasions in her work, as in “A Satyr” and comparable outburts, that resonate with the sharpest Restoration satires against women, made all the more glaring for being relatively few. In this article, I consider this anomaly, arguing that Montagu's apparent anti-feminism does not reflect bouts of gender disaffection. Rather it is a gambit, instrumental to a unisex view of politics that requires each sex to act responsibly—and men to nurture that...
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SOURCE: “Female Heroism and Legal Discourse in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's ‘Epistle from Mrs. Y[onge] to Her Husband’,” in ELH, Vol. XXXIV, No. 4, June 1997, pp. 10-22.
[In this essay, Snyder maintains that in “Epistle from Mrs. Y[onge] to Her Husband” Montagu defines an “alternative heroine” by “subtly manipulating the meanings of various forms of the legal term ‘submission’ until they characterize a speaker who possesses a powerful and authoritative, and thus traditionally masculine, capacity for judgment.”]
In the January 24, 1738 edition of her political journal The Nonsense of Common-Sense, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu insists that people of all ranks in society, and of both sexes, must be judged, and more importantly, must judge themselves, not according to their gender or social rank, but to their merit. For Lady Mary, this active self-reflection characterizes a new heroic ideal for both women and men. She qualifies the ideal for women, however, even as she insists that women may behave as heroically as men. Women are especially heroic, she argues, because they spend their lives yielding to male authority. In their very “submission” to male power, they may, in fact, be paragons who possess a virtue as great as that of Cato or Socrates:
… as much greatness of Mind may be shewn in submission as in command, and some Women have...
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SOURCE: “Alexander Pope, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and the Literature of Social Comment,” in The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1650-1740, edited by Steven N. Zwicker, Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 307-29.
[In the following essay, Landry compares the careers of Montagu and Alexander Pope. Despite the differences between the two writers, the critic observes, “their lives and writings tell us much about the forging of a national and imperial identity that would become disseminated around the globe.”]
Alexander Pope and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu were both born in the year of the Glorious Revolution, 1688-89. Divided by family circumstance and political allegiance, they have been coupled by literary history. Pope was a Catholic linen merchant's son, born in the City of London, who had to make his own fortune in the literary marketplace by means of such ventures as translating Homer's Iliad and Odyssey into English for a distinguished list of wealthy subscribers, who paid in installments to receive their multi-volumed sets over several years. Pope earned about £5000 each from these translations, or, at a “conservative estimate,” the equivalent in today's money of about £100,000 from each.1 Lady Mary Pierrepont, daughter of the Earl (later Duke) of Kingston, married in 1712 a fellow Whig, Edward Wortley Montagu, who would soon become ambassador to...
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Grundy, Isobel. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 680 p.
Scholarly biography of Montagu as a “writer and intellectual.” Grundy maintains that “Lady Mary's was a life of struggle in almost all its phases.”
Allen, M. D. “The New Path: English Women Travelers in the Middle East.” Philological Papers 40 (1994): 1-5.
Examines the tradition of “the indomitable British lady traveler,” which the critic credits Montagu with starting.
Boer, Inge E. “Despotism from Under the Veil: Masculine and Feminine Readings of the Despot and the Harem.” Cultural Critique 32 (Winter 1995-96): 43-73.
Focuses on the Turkish Embassy Letters and their unique point of view from within the harem.
Bohls, Elizabeth A. “Aesthetics and Orientalism in Mary Wortley Montagu's Letters.” In Women Travel Writers and the Language of Aesthetics, 1716-1818, pp. 23-45. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Analysis of the Turkish Embassy Letters in which Bohls declares: “Working at the same time as the men who founded modern aesthetic theory, Montagu launches an alternative tradition of aesthetic thought” in these letters.
Chaber, Lois A....
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