Last Updated on December 3, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 182
Context: While seldom read today except by scholars or literary historians, Maria Edgeworth was once the leading best-seller of England and enjoyed such fame that she was praised by the writers of America and Europe. What these men found in her short stories was a remarkable ability to describe character within a short space. Although her stories are primarily didactic – or "moral," as she would have said it – she seldom fell back on the stereotyped characters that are often the backbone and the fault of the sermonizing story. Quite the contrary, as she shows in the description of Philip Folingsby, one of the minor characters in this story, she could pinpoint a man's personality with a few choice words that so strike the reader that the character is unforgettable.
. . . he was a man whose head was at this time entirely full of gigs, and tandems, and unicorns: business was his aversion; pleasure was his business. Money he considered only as the means of pleasure; and tenants only as machines, who make money. He was neither avaricious nor cruel; but thoughtless and extravagant.
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