Daniel Defoe’s bawdy tale of a woman’s struggle for independence and redemption, Moll Flanders is edited with an introduction and notes by David Blewett in Penguin Classics.
Born in Newgate prison and abandoned six months later, Moll Flanders’ drive to find and hold on to a secure place in society propels her through incest, adultery, bigamy, prostitution and a resourceful career as a thief (‘the greatest Artist of my time’) before her crimes catche up with her, and she is transported to the colony of Virginia in the New World. If Moll Flanders is on one level a Puritan’s tale of sin and repentance, through self-made, self-reliant Moll, Daniel Defoe’s rich subtext conveys all the paradoxes and amoralities of the struggle for property and power in the newly individualistic society of Eighteenth-century England.
Based on the first edition of 1722, this volume includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading, notes on currency and maps of London and Virginia in the late seventeenth century.
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) had a variety of careers including merchant, soldier, spy, and political pamphleteer. Over the course of his life Daniel Defoe wrote over two hundred and fifty books on economics, history, biography and crime, but is best remembered for the fiction he produced in late life, which includes Robinson Crusoe (1719), Moll Flanders (1722) and Roxana (1724). Defoe had a great influence on the development of the English novel and many consider him to be the first true novelist.
If you enjoyed Moll Flanders, you might like Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, also available in Penguin Classics.