Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Fortunate Foundlings

Eliza Haywood's The Fortunate Foundlings (1744) is much more obviously a "novel" than some of her earlier works: you can see by comparing her works of the 1720s to this one how the novel was developing as a form. For example, this book is divided into chapters, and follows a more or less linear structure, with much fewer inset narratives.

The Fortunate Foundlings is about twins (Horatio and Louisa) who are found abandoned under a tree by a wealthy bachelor. He brings them up, and then they go off and have their own adventures for various reasons. I found Louisa's story much more sympathetic and interesting than Horatio's, which is more predictable in its exploration of love and war. Louisa is a typical Haywood heroine - both very feminine and surprisingly strong and independent. At one point, she wanders around Italy on foot with very little money. While her stubbornness can be irritating at times, I ultimately found her extremely sympathetic and her story kept me gripped in a way that Horatio's didn't. Again, there is a certain proto-feminism inherent in the novel, as Louisa's story is very much about the vulnerability of women in a patriarchal society (and, on the flipside, the methods that women used to try and elude victimhood).

I didn't love this in the way I loved The Adventures of Eovaai (which I can't stop thinking about), but it was a fun and pretty absorbing read, especially in what it demonstrates about how the novel had developed since the time Haywood wrote Love in Excess.

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