Critics’ Reviews

“What a treat to see this indispensable and versatile text again available, lovingly edited by Teresa Heffernan and Daniel O’Quinn. They have followed the first edition, 1763 (illicitly published after a secret all-night copying session), while correcting their text from Montagu’s own manuscript. Her idiosyncratic, open-minded, proto-feminist responses to Islamic civilization are more fascinating today than ever, and the context that the editors supply for them is simply the best yet.” — Isobel Grundy, University of Alberta

“Montagu’s famous Letter-book has at last received the attention it has long deserved as an important piece of eighteenth-century travel literature. The lively introduction constructs the historical and literary context of the work, while an impressive set of appendices illustrates not just her world, but also that of her interlocutors and her contemporaries.” — Virginia H. Aksan, McMaster University

“In their superb Introduction to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s The Turkish Embassy Letters, Teresa Heffernan and Daniel O’Quinn write that “much like her letters, it is only more recently that her strategic and intelligent engagement with Ottoman culture is being mined.” Their edition is a timely and compelling reminder of the reasons why we should pay attention to the writing of this remarkable woman. They have produced what will no doubt be the definitive teaching edition for years to come.” — Suvir Kaul, University of Pennsylvania

“Teresa Heffernan and Daniel O’Quinn’s remarkable edition of The Turkish Embassy Letters illuminates the intercultural dimensions of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s account of her travels through the Ottoman Empire. Heffernan and O’Quinn’s critical introduction offers a nuanced account of the text’s production and circulation and of the various discourses—about the East, about women, about Islam—that shaped its reception. Judiciously annotated, the volume offers an impressive range of well-selected contextual materials, embracing contemporary reviews, polemics from the small-pox engrafting controversy, selections from travel writings on the Ottoman empire, British accounts of Islam, contemporary portraits of Eastern women and the harem, and Oriental tales. This is sure to become the go-to edition for scholars and teachers interested in women’s writing, the history of cross-cultural contact, and the shifting thresholds dividing—and conjoining—Occident and Orient in the eighteenth century.” — Lynn Festa, Rutgers University

“I have always wanted a solidly researched and well annotated paperback edition of the letters, with notes at the bottom of the page (rather than those cumbersome endnotes), a good introduction, and a wide-ranging bibliography. Not only does this edition have these, it offers an excellent apparatus that includes a chronology of events related to the life of Montagu, and more than one hundred pages of addition information, ranging from selections of other letters by her, to a discussion of her role in the history of smallpox inoculation, and brief excerpts illustrating European views of Islam … I will use it in my courses.” — Nabil Matar, The Scriblerian

Posted on November 2, 2015