William Godwin’s Mandeville was described as his best novel by Percy Shelley, who sent a copy to Lord Byron, and it was immediately recognized by its other admirers as a work of unique power. Written one year after the battle of Waterloo and set in an earlier revolutionary period between the execution of Charles I and the Restoration, Mandeville is a novel of psychological warfare. The narrative begins with Mandeville’s rescue from the traumatic aftermath of the Ulster Rebellion of 1641 and proceeds through his early education by a fanatical Presbyterian minister to his persecution at Winchester school, his constant (and not unjustified) paranoia, and his confinement in an asylum. Mandeville’s final, desperate attempt to prevent his sister’s marriage to his enemy ends with his disfiguration, which also defaces endings based on settlement or reconciliation. The novel’s events have many resonances with Godwin’s own period.
The historical appendices offer contemporary reviews, including Shelley’s letter to Godwin praising Mandeville, material explaining the novel’s complex historical background, and contemporary writings on war, madness, and trauma.
“Godwin’s most harrowing novel and trenchant analysis of the stalling of political justice by personal trauma, Mandeville probes the importance of pathology to history. Set in the period of the English Revolution, Mandeville narrates Charles Mandeville’s wounding by history and the wounding of the capacity for progress. Expertly situated and annotated by Godwin’s most comprehensive reader, Tilottama Rajan’s edition fleshes out the historical, political, doctrinal, and psychopathological contexts that inform this most damaged Godwinian character. An alternative form of historical novel, Mandeville showcases the negative in persons and events as a deliberate challenge to a taste that impedes radical change. This volume is mandatory reading for scholars of Godwin, projects of Enlightenment, Anglo-Irish relations, and trauma.” — Julie Carlson, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Mandeville is William Godwin’s darkest, most politically abrasive novel. Godwin’s reputation has surged in recent years. He has benefited from the movement to historicize literary texts which has gathered force in the last two decades. Broadview Press has been in the lead, providing excellent classroom editions of Godwin’s major novels, Caleb Williams, St Leon, and Fleetwood—and now, Mandeville. Tilottama Rajan presents a scrupulously edited text, together with an original critical interpretation. The appendices are comprehensive, well-judged, and illuminating. This edition is compelling in its own right and a point of entry into Godwin’s broader engagement with seventeenth-century English and Irish history.” — Pamela Clemit, Queen Mary University of London
“We continue to be indebted to Broadview Press for issuing first-rate editions, with the past year bringing … William Godwin’s Mandeville, edited by Tilottama Rajan, who enables us to read the novel in relation to its historical sources and in conversation with a range of fascinating texts on ‘Extreme Phenomena’ from Carl von Clausewitz on war to John Hunter on wounds to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling on the negative.” — Jeffrey N. Cox, Studies in English Literature