Robert Bage’s Hermsprong satirizes English society of the 1790s targeting, in particular, corrupt clergymen, grasping lawyers and wicked aristocrats. The protagonist, a European raised among Native Americans, visits Europe and is dismayed by what he encounters. While such satire might seem conventional enough, Hermsprong is distinguished from other political novels of the period by its comedy, and it is a measure of Bage’s success that he won the admiration of writers as different in political outlook as Mary Wollstonecraft and Sir Walter Scott. Indeed, Hermsprong is built around debate, and celebrates the pleasures of the lively exchange of ideas.
This Broadview edition contains extensive primary source appendices including material by William Godwin, Benjamin Franklin, Pierre de Charlevoix, and Voltaire.
“A novel that argues for the need for wit, tolerance, and free play of intelligence not only tells us about its origins in political debates of the 1790s, but also is of urgent interest to twenty-first century readers. Bravo Pamela Perkins and Broadview Press for producing this wonderful edition of Hermsprong. Bage himself would be pleased.” — Lisa Vargo, University of Saskatchewan
“Having come to expect exceptionally high standards from Broadview, I am delighted to find that Hermsprong, edited by Pamela Perkins, does not disappoint. Perkins’ introduction is perceptive and intelligent, balancing genuine enthusiasm for the novel with a judicious assessment of its place in literary history. The appendices are useful, including contemporary reviews, Bage’s own thoughts on novel writing, and material relating to perceptions of America in the eighteenth century. The text itself, based chiefly on the first edition of 1796, is clearly laid out and helpfully annotated. In short, this is an excellent and much-needed edition.” — Jane Hodson, University of Sheffield
“At last, Bage’s witty and unconventional novel is back in print. With its delightful strategies for challenging English practices from the treatment of daughters to the conversion of Indians, Hermsprong is unique among political and domestic fictions of the 1790s. Thanks to Pamela Perkins’s fine introduction and appendices, this eminently teachable novel, and its unusual author, will be much better understood.” — Susan S. Lanser, Brandeis University