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or, The Fortunate Mistress

Written by: Daniel Defoe
Edited by: Melissa Mowry

Series: Broadview Editions

Publication Date: April 14, 2009
420pp • Paperback / PDF / ePub
ISBN: 9781551118079 / 1551118076

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Almost three hundred years after its first publication, Roxana continues to challenge readers, who, though compelled by Roxana's story, are often baffled by her complex relationships to her children, her fortune, and her vices. As one of Daniel Defoe's four major fictions, Roxana has long been understood as central to the history of the novel, and provides readers with Defoe's sharpest and most specific commentary on the complexities of life in seventeenth-century London. This edition offers a range of contemporary documents that will help readers understand the struggles of Roxana's life as series of metaphoric engagements with pressing issues of her time.


"Rare is that edition that gives us a fresh interpretation of a primary work, but that is precisely what Melissa Mowry has accomplished in this excellent edition. The introduction details Roxana's place in Defoe's career and the ways the novel evokes his Dissenter politics, while also shedding new light on the novel's imbrication in debates about political sovereignty, feminism, and prostitution. The supplementary materials are all artfully chosen to produce fresh readings of the novel. Finally, the inclusion of some of the alternate endings written for Roxana, along with a brief reception history of Defoe's work, invites speculation about changes in the representation of gender and sexuality over the course of the long eighteenth century in Britain." - Scarlet Bowen, University of Colorado

Melissa Mowry is Associate Professor of English at St. John's University, New York.

Table of Contents: [Back to Top]



Daniel Defoe: A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Text


Appendix A: Roxana's Shifting Identity and the Tradition of Whore Biography

Appendix B: Women's Work

Appendix C: Court Culture

Appendix D: City Culture

Appendix E: The Great Debate on the Poor

Appendix F: Women and Marriage

Appendix G: Alternate Endings of Roxana

Select Bibliography

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2009 • 420pp • Paperback • 9781551118079 / 1551118076

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Broadview Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and also acknowledges the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Freehand Books, an imprint of Broadview, acknowledges the support of the Canadian Council of the Arts.