British Fiction, 18001829

?WYNDHAM, Revd. Men and Women (1805)

Contemporary Reviews

Monthly Review, 2nd ser. 52 (Jan 1807): 97–98.

We learn that the author of this novel professes ‘to have undertaken to represent Men and Women, inhabitants of the earth, and clogged with all its imperfections.’ In the characters which he brings forwards, he has certainly exhibited a variety of imperfections; and he has endeavoured to shew the absurdity of some of them, by holding them up to the ridicule of the world. In satirizing a poet without learning, he is too severe, and particularly as he associates the name with that of a living character: however imprudent it may be in a mechanic to devote himself to poetry, yet surely the act is not likely to compel him to become the instrument of an abandoned attorney, and lead him [97/98] to attempt murder; here seems to be something like ill-nature, which has a forbidding aspect. Other parts of the work are reprehensible on account of the indelicate ideas which they excite; and a father objection to this novel, though not of so serious a nature as the former, may affect its popularity, viz. the learning which it contains: allusions to and quotations from Greek and Latin authors generally frighten readers of publications of this nature, and often prevent a continued perusal. Moreover, and worst of all, the novel, as the author dreaded, is sometimes dull, and often improbable; and the main tale is broken by too long episodes, which, though connected with it, are disproportionate and tedious. We read with abhorrence the passage in which Julia, with whose character we are interested on account of the general purity of her sentiments and the propriety of her conduct, without any immediate solicitation, deliberately proposes to become the mistress of Carberry, on account of their mutual love, and to suit his convenience. Many parts of the tale, however, are related in an interesting manner, and may afford amusement to those who delight in reading works of this nature.

Notes: Format: 3 vols 12mo; price 13s. 6d. Boards. Publisher: Longman.

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