This audio tie-in of the Granada ITV series tells the tale of Moll Flanders, her seduction, marriages and liasons. Read by RSC actor Alex Kingston, it describes Moll's meetings with highwaymen, pickpockets and dastardly rogues.Amazon.com Review
The recent adaptation of Moll Flanders for Masterpiece Theater is abook-lover's dream: the dialogue and scene arrangement are closeenough to allow the viewer to follow along in the book.The libertiestaken with the tale are few (some years of childhood between thegypsies and the wealthy family are elided; Moll is Moll throughout thetale, rather than Mrs. Betty; Robert becomes Rowland, etc.) and thesets avoid the careless anachronism of the movie version releasedearlier this year.
The breasts, raised skirts, tumbling hair and heavy breathing on thesmall screen might catch you by surprise if you don't read the bookcarefully (as might Moll's abandonment of her children on more thanone occasion).Unlike his near-contemporary John Cleland (_FannyHill_), Defoe was trying to keep out of jail, and so didn't dwell onthe details of "correspondence" between Moll and her varied lovers.But on the page and on the screen, Moll comes across quite clearly asa woman who might bend, but refuses to break, and who is intent onhaving as good a life as she can get.
E. M. Forsterin Aspects of the Novelconsiders Moll and her creator's art in some detail.While he finds much to criticize in Defoe's ability to plot (where didthose last two children go, anyway?), he is as besotted with Moll as Iam.Immoral?Sure -- but immortal, and never, ever dull.We hope atleast a few of the viewers of the recent adaptation take a couplehours to discover the original, inimitable Moll Flanders. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (53)
As many other reviewers have noted, it takes some effort to deal with this books old english style of prose. But, what do you expect? The book was written several hundred years ago! Once you get used to it, this novel is really very interesting and just gets progressively better as it goes on. By the end you cant put it down, you just have to know what happens to Moll.I thought Defoe offered very perceptive insights into human nature in sometimes very amusing passages. The novel has this curious aspect in that throughout the novel Moll displays a deep degree of moral self-awareness but then she has this ability to essentially ignore the impact of her often outrageous behavior. I guess this was Defoe's point. We all have to rationalize our actions to some degree to make our way in an imperfect and often cruel world. You will cheer and abhor her at the same time but at least she wont bore you!
Moll Flanders is one of the few 'classic' books I have read in which a MALE author parallels the thought of a woman as the narrator. Moll Flanders is the ultimate tribute to a woman out to make a name for herself in a world of poverty, protitution, and love, who eventually learns more about her own strengths than the lessons of any morals. Moll Flanders is an embodiment of feminism... but oddly enough is written by a male author-giving the text a female and male essence of love, twists, and, of course, misfortunes.
Moll Flanders / 0-451-52633-3
Defoe's novel, Moll Flanders, one of the first true English novels follows the "true" story of a lower-class woman who - eventually - turns to a life of petty thievery and prostitution partly as a means to live, and partly as a means to a middle-class life of relative riches and ease.
This thin little novel is a fairly quick read and the story pacing moves at a quick clip as we read through the salacious and scandalous life of this matron is not particularly clever nor particularly beautiful, but she is persistent, dogged, and increasingly amoral enough to make a life for herself just above the level of extreme and desperate poverty. Through the course of her life, Moll takes several husbands, bears multiple children, and chooses to view her life with pride and detachment, rather than with the shame she 'ought' to feel. In this regard, Moll is perhaps the most modern of the historical novel characters, because she views the societal norms which would compel her to pious poverty with a jaundiced eye and recognizes that the 'shameful' things she does to survive, the gentry do on a much wider, if more socially acceptable, scale.
~ Ana Mardoll
Wondering how true to life she was..
I read this several years ago.Didn't have much of a problem with the writing style, but others might.
As a mom, I just couldn't get over the fact she gave birth to about 10 kids,didn't give a flying leap about any of them, and abandoned every single one of them at her earliest convenience.I have heard of a lot of REALLY bad mothers, but none that just walked away, never gave another thought to any of them - on about 6 different occasions.
My modern mind wants to guess she had reactive attachment disorder since she was abandoned herself, but of course she just may be the imagining of a man who didn't really care to write about a woman's relationships with her children.(Wikipedia says he had 8 kids by the same wife and 6 survived, so he should have known of the bond a woman has with her children).
It's an interesting book, but I can't fully recommend it as a story.I would recommend it for people interested in 17th and 18th century England and America.
Good, but not great literature
To fully understand and appreciate Moll Flanders you should have some understanding of the status of fiction at the time Daniel DeFoe was writing and some knowledge about the man himself.As Nancy Springer has indicated, the novel is an example of a "picaresque adventure," a style of writing that was popular at the time. These stories glorified a new kind of hero--the ordinary person, who engaged in a series of often wild and improbable events in exotic places. The picaresque rouge was a rebel against the remains of the feudal system with its hierarchy of human worth. Such novels featured a clever, strong-minded, low-born character who knew how to survive.What DeFoe did differently is to make his character a women and have her adventures take place largely in England.
The novel is also largely autobiographical. DeFoe himself experienced many financial ups and downs, yet he persevered. In fact it wasn't until he was 60 years old that he began writing novels and achieved some measure of fame and financial success. He spent time in Newgate prison and deeply in debt. He was also an outspoken political reformer who wrote more than 250 political pamphlets.
Having said the above, the novel still has its faults. One is that it is written in a continuous manner with no chapter breaks. While DeFoe may have been trying to say that time is continuous and that distinctions (such as hours, days, weeks, etc.) are mere fabrications, still readers like to have books broken down into chapters. A more serious flaw is the lack of names. Apart from her first husband there are virtually no names given to the characters. Even Moll herself is not identified by the title name until well into the book and even this name is not her actual name (which we never learn). Instead characters are identified in some impersonal way (my Lancashire husband, my governess, etc.) The lack of names makes it hard for the reader to engender any sympathy for Moll and the other personages in the book.Also the action is so fast paced that it flashes by like looking through a kaleidoscope, the scenes and action constantly shifting and changing. For example, within the first 100 pages Moll is married five times, has several children, goes to Virginia, finds her mother, etc.There is no time for the reader to reflect on the tragedies that befall her, especially given that they are told in a matter-of-fact manner.
The book can be divided into two parts. The first half deals with Moll's amorous life--her marriages and love affairs. The second part focuses primarily on her criminal activities. Both sections tell the story entirely from Moll's perspective. In many respects Moll is a match for Thackery's Becky Sharp. Both are low-born, both get positions in well-to-do families, both marry one of the sons in the family, both are attractive and quick witted, both scheme to get money and both have various adventures and misadventures. But Vanity Fair is written as a social commentary and Thackery uses the omnipotent story teller to advantage, even having him speak directly to the reader. DeFoe, by comparison, limits himself to having his protagonist say, in effect, now I did this, then I did that, then this happened, etc.
To give DeFoe his due, the book does provide a realistic and detailed account of life in England at that time.His description of Newgate prison is but one example. Perhaps Moll's attitude also reflected the times accurately. It can best be described as "a woman is nothing without a man and to get a man a woman must have money."Thus Moll spends the entire book pursuing both.But one can question how realistic Moll Flanders really is. She has a number of children, but seems to have little regard for them. Perhaps DeFoe, needing to rid Moll of encumbrances such as children in order to engage her in so many adventures, gave her what is an unnatural attitude for a mother. In the end he does reunite her with a son, but we should note that her motivation, at least at first, is financial not familial.
All in all, the book is worth reading, but it is far from great literature.
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