Charlotte Dacre Criticism - Essay

British Critic (review date December 1805)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Confessions of the Nun of St. Omer. British Critic (December 1805): 671.

[In the following review, contemporaneous with the publication of Confessions, the reviewer praises the novel's useful moral but berates its affected prose.]

Confessions of the Nun of St. Omer; a Tale in Three Volumes. By Rosa Matilda. 12mo. Hughes. 1805.

A very fine, sentimental, and improbable story, written in turgid and affected language. For example, “at length I married; it was a step of desperation, and failed of yielding me the solace I expected; it smoothed not in its placid even chain, the effervessence of my soul,” &c. &c.

If this be not nonsense, it is certainly very like it. The moral, however, is good, for it teaches the mischiefs which arise from the neglect and violation of the social duties.

General Review of British and Foreign Literature (review date June 1806)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Zofloya; or the Moor. General Review of British and Foreign Literature 1 (June 1806): 590-93.

[In the following review, contemporaneous with the publication of Zofloya, the reviewer asserts that the novel does not rank as a moral work and, in general, contains little artistic merit.]

Zofloya; or, the Moor: a Romance of the Fifteenth Century, in 3 Vols. by Charlotte Dacre, better known as Rosa Matilda; Author of the Nun of St. Omer's, Hours of Solitude, &c. 12mo. London. Longman and Co. 1806. Price 12s.

This novel abounds with characters of mischief and vice, drawn...

(The entire section is 1712 words.)

Literary Journal (review date June 1806)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Zofloya; or the Moor. Literary Journal, a Review of Literature, Science, Manners, Politics 1 (June 1806): 631-35.

[In the following review, contemporaneous with the publication of Zofloya, the reviewer argues satirically that the novel requires of its readers a suspension of disbelief.]

Zofloya; or, The Moor: A Romance of the Fifteenth Century. By Charlotte Dacre, better known as Rosa Matilda, Author of the Nun of St. Omers, Hours of Solitude, &c. 3vols. 12mo. 12s. Longman & Co. London, 1806.

After all it must be confessed that the...

(The entire section is 2020 words.)

A. M. D. Hughes (essay date 1912)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hughes, A. M. D. “Shelley's Zastrozzi and St. Irvyne.Modern Language Review 7 (1912): 54-63.

[In the following essay, Hughes provides a brief introduction of how Matthew Gregory Lewis's The Monk and Ann Radclffe's The Italian influenced Gothic romances in general and Dacre's Zofloya in particular. The critic also investigates the influence of Zofloya on P. B. Shelley's Zastrozzi and St. Irvyne, which, the writer argues, replicate Zofloya's plot and some of its characters.]

The long disregarded romances of Shelley come under a new light in Dr A. H. Koszul's brilliant book, La Jeunesse de...

(The entire section is 4951 words.)

Rev. Montague Summers (essay date 1928)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Summers, Rev. Montague. “Byron's ‘Lovely Rosa.’” In Essays In Petto, 57-73. London: The Fortune Press, 1928.

[In the following excerpt, the foremost Gothic scholar of the early twentieth century offers a general overview of Dacre's oeuvre.]

Far be't from me unkindly to upbraid
The lovely Rosa's prose in masquerade,
Whose strains, the faithful echoes of her mind,
Leave wondering comprehension far behind.

English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, 1809, ll. 519-522.

The orthodox note on the above passage runs thus: “The lovely little Jessica, the daughter of the noted Jew K———, seems to be a follower of the Della...

(The entire section is 6757 words.)

Ann H. Jones (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Jones, Ann H. “Charlotte Dacre.” In Ideas and Innovations: Best Sellers of Jane Austen's Age, pp. 224-49. New York: AMS Press, 1986.

[In the following essay, Jones treats Zofloya as an allegory whose narrative traces the growth of evil, with Zofloya intended not as naturalistic but as a representative part of Victoria's mind.]

In the year 1810, when Sydney Owenson was still known for fervid works like Woman and The Missionary, her name was linked by Sarah Green in the preface to Romance Readers and Romance Writers with that of another novelist, Charlotte Dacre, as “the most licentious writers of romance of the...

(The entire section is 12239 words.)

Jerome J. McGann (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: McGann, Jerome J. “‘My Brain is Feminine’: Byron and the Poetry of Deception.” In Byron: Augustan and Romantic, edited by Andrew Rutherford, 26-51. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990.

[In the following excerpt, McGann traces the development of Byron's verse in the context of sentimental poetry, investigating the neglected influence of Dacre on Byron's juvenile poetry, and, through Byron, offering a conceptual framework within which to better appreciate Dacre's sentimental eroticism.]


I begin with a mouldy anecdote, a late supplement to that once-flourishing industry—now part of the imagination's rust belt—called...

(The entire section is 4357 words.)

Robert Miles (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Miles, Robert. “Avatars of Matthew Lewis's The Monk: Ann Radcliffe's The Italian and Charlotte Dacre's Zafloya: Or, The Moor.” In Gothic Writing, 1750-1820: A Genealogy, pp. 160-88. London: Routledge, 1993.

[In the following excerpt, Miles investigates the feminist perspective operating in Zofloya, and claims that Dacre's examination of the stereotypes of gender and feminine desire make her the most interesting of the minor female Gothic writers.]


Charlotte Dacre's Zofloya: Or, The Moor (1806), is in two respects a female version of Lewis's The Monk: a woman,...

(The entire section is 3775 words.)

Adriana Craciun (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Craciun, Adriana. “‘I hasten to be disembodied’: Charlotte Dacre, the Demon Lover, and Representations of the Body.” European Romantic Review 6, no. 1 (1995): 75-97.

[In the following essay, Craciun studies the prevailing opinions of science and epistemology during the latter half of the eighteenth century, a context within which she develops her thesis that Dacre's work, particularly her poetry, holds more complex, positive concepts of sexuality, the body, and the demon lover than we previously thought.]

And if it is in death that the spirit becomes free, in the manner of spirits, it is not until then that the body too comes properly...

(The entire section is 8841 words.)

Diana Long Hoeveler (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hoeveler, Diana Long. “Charlotte Dacre's Zofloya: A Case Study in Miscegenation as Sexual and Racial Nausea.” European Romantic Review 8, no. 2 (1997): 185-99.

[In the following essay, Hoeveler characterizes Zofloya as a racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic work which typifies the popular colonialist and sexist consciousness of bourgeois England in the early nineteenth century. The critic reads Victoria as the aristocratic woman whose open war on bourgeois values is justly punished, and pays particular attention to the responsibility Dacre places on Victoria's mother.]

Zofloya, or the Moor was Charlotte Dacre's second novel, written...

(The entire section is 6466 words.)

Adriana Craciun (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Craciun, Adriana. Introduction to Zofloya; or, The Moor, pp. 9-32. Orchard Park, N.Y.: Broadview Press, 1997.

[In the following essay, Craciun highlights the literary significance of Dacre's unique female characters, focusing especially on how Victoria's assertive sexuality, sadistic violence, and willful desire for mastery embody traits of the male Gothic villain. The critic also discusses how Dacre's thematic distinction between natural sex and cultural gender along with her emphasis on active existence over fixed essence accounts for Victoria's corporeal transformations.]



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Lisa M. Wilson (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wilson, Lisa M. “Female Pseudonymity in the Romantic ‘Age of Personality’: The Career of Charlotte King/Rosa Matilda/Charlotte Dacre.” European Romantic Review 9, no. 3 (1998): 393-420.

[In the following essay, Wilson first reminds us of the key role that pseudonyms and ensuing literary gossip played in the marketing and sales of eighteenth-century books, and then shows how Charlotte King's cleverly self-protective double pseudonymity (Rosa Matilda/Charlotte Dacre) illustrates the continuing importance of pseudonymous authorship in the early nineteenth century.]

Writing in 1809, at the height of Charlotte King's career as a pseudonymous author,...

(The entire section is 11179 words.)

James A. Dunn (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Dunn, James A. “Charlotte Dacre and the Feminization of Violence.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 53, no. 3, (1998): 307-27.

[In the following essay, Dunn includes all of Dacre's novels in his discussion of how Dacre's texts' erotic imagination and Machiavellian violence are concomitantly liberating and tragic, a duality that explains her works' potential for dramatic irony.]

Where is the ebullient, infinite woman who, immersed as she was in her naiveté, kept in the dark about herself, led into self-disdain by the great arm of parental-conjugal phallocentrism, hasn't been ashamed of her strength? Who, surprised and horrified by the...

(The entire section is 7946 words.)