British Fiction, 18001829

ANON. Anne of Brittanny (1810)

Contemporary Reviews

Critical Review, 3rd ser. 20 (Aug 1810): 442–43.

The author of this romance endeavours in the preface to combat the objections which are invariably made to all heterogeneous mixtures of history with fiction, by asserting that history is rendered more interesting when ‘ornamented and touched by the magic of fancy.’ The writer also imagines that those who are ignorant of the facts, on which a romance may be founded, may be induced to search the pages of history to convince themselves how far the author of it has adhered to the truth, or trespassed on the credulity of the reader. [442/443] Many lovers of romance are too apt to take all they peruse for granted, and are too much delighted with the fiction, to trouble themselves to discover whether or not the author has adhered to the canons of historical truth. As the great requisite in history is truth, we do not see how the interest of truth is to be increased by being blended with lies; and we fear that those who peruse with great avidity the fictions of the novelist, will soon lose all relish for the dry details of the historian.

But to turn to the romance. Anne of Brittanny is not devoid of interest as far as the author follows the thread of history, to which he, for the most part, faithfully adheres. The only romance, if romance it may be termed, is the constant and ardent attachment, pourtrayed between Anne of Brittanny and Louis de Valois, duke of Orleans, which is preserved in spite of various trials, disappointments, and court intrigues. The character of Anne is very pleasing, and forms a good contrast with that of the lady of Beaujeu, the regent of France. The former combines all the softness, elegance, and amiability of private life, with the chastened dignity of majesty. In the latter we observe the malignity, the intriguing and revengeful disposition for which she was so notorious. The description of the tournaments and court amusements are the same as in other romances of this species. We have shivered lances and disarmed knights, and tokens of merit bestowed, in the usual way, by the fair hands of the lady appointed on these occasions. Our author (whether male of female) has evinced much taste in his manner of dressing the captivating Anne of Brittanny; the description of which will not only amuse, but aid the taste of many of our beautiful countrywomen. This little work is well written, and does not weary by its length. We cannot say that it excites much interest by its novelty; but it certainly does not offend by its grossness or immorality. On the contrary, the interview which takes place between Anne of Brittanny and the duke of Orleans her lover, is managed with great delicacy and propriety. The noble act of sacrificing our own wishes for the good of others, is well exemplified in the character of Anne, who is afterwards rewarded for her generous conduct by her union with the man whom she so faithfully loved, and whom she had before given up for the welfare of her country.

Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. Format: 3 vols; price 13s. 6d. Publisher: Cradock.

Monthly Review, 2nd ser. 63 (Oct 1810): 210.

Although we are not quite convinced by the ingenious arguments in favour of historical romances which are contained in the preface to these volumes, we do not hesitate to acknowledge that the present performance is one of the most pleasing and rational publications of this description which we have lately had occasion to notice. The language is elegant, the plot is founded on an interesting portion of the French history, and the author has shewn good taste and consistency, as well in the selection as in the invention of the incidents.

Notes: Listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Novels’. Format: 3 vols 12mo; price 13s. 6d. Boards. Publisher: Cradock & Joy.

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