NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Thursday, February 19, 2009


by Daniel Defoe

I'll let the original full title sum up Moll Flanders:

"The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Etc. Who Was Born In Newgate, and During a Life of Continu'd Variety For Threescore Years, Besides Her Childhood, Was Twelve Year a Whore, Five Times a Wife [Whereof Once To Her Own Brother], Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon In Virginia, At Last Grew Rich, Liv'd Honest, and Died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums."

I was going to wait until I listened to my Teaching Company lecture for this book before I wrote about it, but I decided to get my initial impressions down first.

I adored Moll Flanders, the woman and the book. She's not a traditional heroine, that's for certain, but she's spunky and tough and did what she had to do to make it in a man's world. While we have come a long very way, there is still a certain stigma surrounding many unmarried women. Some people assume there is something wrong with her or that she is a lesbian or some kind of radical feminist. She herself may fall victim to societal norms and start thinking badly of herself if she does want a husband and can't seem to find one. Even if she doesn't want one, she may start to wonder what is wrong with her that she feels that way!

I discussed this book with a good friend, an avid reader and strong, independent woman herself. She didn't care for it, but her reasoning was interesting to me. Being a mother, it bothered her tremendously that Moll was continually bearing children and leaving them behind, either with the father's family or in other situations where they would be taken in and cared for. I, being only a mother to fuzzy four-legged children, thought that strange behaviour, but considering the times and her situation, I just let it go. Funny how our modern situations can color our opinions of even very old books!

I plan on listening to the lecture for this soon, so we'll see what other observations come to mind when I hear what Professor Weinstein has to say. I'll keep you posted!

Related Posts:

Further Thoughts on Moll Flanders and Some Questions
TTC: Classic Novels, Lecture 2

Other reviews:

Heather at Age 30+ . . . A Lifetime of Books


Anna said...

Sometimes you just can't understand the classics without considering the period during which they were written. I haven't read this one, but I'm intrigued.

Diary of an Eccentric

Lezlie said...

Anna ~ I wholeheartedly agree! It's something I have a tough time keeping in mind sometimes.


Anonymous said...

I really want to read this novel. Thanks for posting about it. I'm curious to see how the leaving of children affects me. I don't know much about the author, but it's curious to me that she could/would do that without getting upset. I can't wait to jump in on this one! Thanks again!

Lezlie said...

Literate Housewife ~ I think part of the reason it was easy for me to basically dismiss was because it was not dwelled on at all. Once they were parted, that was pretty much it. My friend suspects that had the book been written by a woman, it would have been handled very differently. She may well be correct! I'll be waiting to see your reaction to it, too.


Ladytink_534 said...

I haven't decided if I'm going to read this or not. Do you plan on watching an of the movie adaptations of it? There are four I think.

Lezlie said...

Ladytink ~ I hadn't planned on it. I'm not much of a movie watcher, so the thought never even occurred to me! I'm a little narrow-minded like that. :-)


Anonymous said...

I have this one in my TBR eventually pile. I'd like to read it, but I think I'll have to be in a certain mood. Your post gives me hope, though!

Anonymous said...

Oh my - the original full title is certainly a mouthful.

Jeane said...

That is one of the longest titles I've ever seen, but it sure does give a good overview of the book! I don't know how I'd feel about her leaving children behind- I'm sure it would upset me at some level.

Lezlie said...

Meghan ~ Yeah, I don't think it's one you can just pick up and sink your teeth into. It is more lively than you would think though!

Bermudaonion ~ Not to mention that it gives away a bunch of plot lines! :-)

Jeane ~ If I had children, I may have felt it more keenly. But then again, I'm not sure how she could have kept them with her and supported them all. In reality, the children were most likely much better off where they ended up. Deep love and concern for their welfare, rather than selfish disinterest, seem to be the motivators in her decision, however off-handed it appears at first.

Which I suppose begs this question: Could we give up our children if we knew it would spare them a life of poverty and instability? This may require another post! :-)


Darlene said...

I just loved this book. I'd love to reread it one day soon. I watched the film of it some months ago-it was good. I do agree with what your friend said. I did notice that and remember that it bothered me that she always left her kids but it didn't detract from the story for me.

Lezlie said...

Dar ~ I am definitely going to have to create a separate post for this issue. I think we could all have a very interesting discussion!


joanna said...

I really liked this when I read it, glad you did too! And I think that we can't really judge what she did or how she handled things from a modern standpoint. I don't think any of us can know how we would act in a certain situation until we're faced with it. And since we can't be put in the same world as moll flanders, ir's difficult to say we'd do things differently.

Lezlie said...

Joanna ~ I agree. I think our ideas of how we would handle things are always tainted by our modern sensibilities. I always find myself so grateful I didn't live in the past when I read books like this. I like experiencing it from the comfort of my 21st century livingroom! :-)