Wikipedia:Peer review/Original Stories from Real Life/archive1

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Original Stories from Real Life[edit]

This article on Mary Wollstonecraft's only piece of children's literature has recently achieved GA and I would like it to reach FA. Any suggestions along this line would be much appreciated. Awadewit 15:50, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Review by Kaldari[edit]

Only had a chance to scan through the first two sections. Other than a couple punctuation changes, the only thing I noticed that needs editing is one sentence is somewhat difficult to read: "Wollstonecraft continued writing on educational issues in her most famous work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), which was written in response to Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord’s proposal for a national system of education in France based on the assumption that women only needed a domestic education and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Emile: Or, On Education which claimed that women were irrational and could not be taught to reason." Can we break this into two or three sentences? Kaldari 23:48, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

I've tried to improve it. Awadewit 05:15, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Review by Opabinia regalis[edit]

  • There are some aspects of the lead that are a bit awkward - eg, the first two sentences contain semicolons, and it's the second instead of the first instance of children's literature that's linked. What stands out more, though, is that there's introductorym material about Wollstonecraft's intentions and social messages in the book, but no single-sentence plot summary - we know what the book was meant to do but not what it's about.
I've been working on the lead. I'm not sure that a single-sentence plot summary is appropriate (see below), but I'll see what I can do. Awadewit 05:22, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
  • On a related note, the historical background section is quite long to be the first section of the article, before any discussion of the book itself - especially considering that the article isn't really very long overall. It breaks things up a bit, but maybe just put a bit of the history in the lead, and put the rest after the section on the plot. The plot section itself could use a bit of expansion; it's very brief and nonspecific. There's more in the later sections, but there are unanswered basic questions about how Mary and Caroline came to be taught this way, what the setting is, the sort of stuff you'd put in the plot section of a modern work of fiction.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to write a plot summary of this text because there is no real plot; it is not structured like a modern work of fiction (in fact callling it fiction is problematic). The Mary and Caroline story basically serves as a thread narrative - we learn next to nothing about them and they are essentially irrelevant to the purpose of the work; the bulk of the text consists of Mrs. Mason's stories and the group's visits to other people who also tell them stories. I will revise to try to get this across. It is not a story with a single narrative arc - it is a series of didactic tales. Awadewit 05:22, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
  • If you're going to mention Mitzi Myers by name in the text, some aside about her eminence as a scholar would be useful. Does she need her own article?
I don't know if she deserves her own article or not. She did not live long enough to publish a book (she died tragically), but her articles transformed the study of eighteenth-century children's literature. Awadewit 05:22, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
  • In the same discussion - Myers' articles demonstrate that women writers of children's literature had a particular purpose? "Demonstrate" seems too strong here, or at least misplaced; I'd associate it more with empirical results.
It's common language in literary studies but I have changed it since other readers will have different connotations associated with the word. Awadewit 06:23, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
  • "Aesthetic of the sublime" - wikilink goes to a disambig page; I assume you meant sublime (philosophy).
Oops - thanks. Awadewit 05:22, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
  • "Teaching through precept" won't be intuitive or familiar to most readers, even if it's fairly clear from the context.
Linked to dictionary and redid next sentence to hopefully make it clearer. Awadewit 06:23, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
  • There's a quote from a "Kelly" in the pedagogical theory section; he's mentioned much earlier, but I'd since forgotten the name. He should be re-introduced here.
Done. Awadewit 06:23, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Was there really a deliberate effort to formulate the genre of children's literature?
Yes, see my article on Sarah Trimmer and her Guardian of Education. Awadewit 05:22, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
  • ' fairy tales and other popular tales that they associated with the rich and the poor, respectively.' - not clear what the 'respectively' goes to here, since 'other popular tales' is so general.
Done. Awadewit 06:23, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
  • To me, the illustration interpretations read like the usual just-so stories. A large hat means Mrs. Mason is an oppressive influence? If there's no more context to give, I suppose there's nothing more to be said, but I suspect many people will read these interpretations and think no further than 'pfft, that's dumb'. Opabinia regalis 05:02, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, I've included a good part of Mitchell's analysis now. Perhaps you will see why I left out some parts of it in the first place. Let me know what you think. Also, please don't ask me to summarize the quote. Blake scholarship is impossible (as is Blake)! Awadewit 06:23, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Also, I might add, clearly not everyone agrees on the large hat being oppressive, so it is not a "dumb" interpretation. What do you think? Does the large hat represent oppressiveness? Why or why not? Can you give reasons? Are they historically specific? That is the essence of good scholarship in the humanities, in my opinion - you can really back up what you are saying with evidence from your primary source and you can put that evidence in historical context. By the way, these interpretations of the print are actually pretty good because they focus on details from the print itself as well as eighteenth-century artistic traditions (one Blakean, one a larger artistic movement). Unfortunately, this does not always happen - there is no real "evidence" presented for the critic's interpretation from the work. Here we have evidence that the reader can weigh - does the large hat look oppressive? Do the girls' hats look like halos? If they do, what does that mean? Is Mrs. Mason's stance suffocating the girls or embracing them? Both critics have good reasons for their interpretations beyond "I just think so." Just trying to defend the humanities a bit. :) Awadewit 06:23, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Thank you. I will start working on these things. Awadewit 05:22, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Review by Qp10qp[edit]

This is another excellent article by Awadewit, and a really useful contribution to Wikipedia, which, thanks to her, is developing an informative and reliable niche on eighteenth-century proto-feminist writers and eighteenth-century educational theory. I would certainly vote “support” at an FAC. I found the article extremely interesting; for once, one of Awadewit’s subjects overlaps slightly with some of my areas of interest, which include the history of Cornish folklore and eighteenth-century art.

I’ve made a note of a number of small points; but, first, two main points which occurred to me after I read the article for the first time:

  • The first concerns the description of the narrative, which I felt lacked in vividness and specificity. As a reader, I could have done with a short quotation or two, illustrating the tone of the dialogue between Mrs Mason and the girls. Also, I suggest that the article might benefit from a sentence or two summarising a few—say, three—of the exemplary tales, to give a flavour. I had to scout round the internet to gain an idea of the sort of thing: for example, there turns out to be one about a robin who tries to take over the nest and insists on being the first fed because he is the oldest. We have tantalising fragments of information about Townley, Trueman, and Fretful, but they are too insubstantial to chew upon, in my opinion.
That story comes from Sarah Trimmer's Fabulous Histories (another article I'm working on). I can expand the description of the text - I just wanted to make sure that the article didn't become a long plot summary. Also, I was worried about original research. When does a plot summary become interpretation? It is a thin line. Awadewit 21:49, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
I've worked a bit on this now. Awadewit 01:06, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I think that gives the reader some necessary assistance now in imagining the style of the book. You've probably overdone it, for the moment, but this is work in progress, and the right length for such summaries will gradually emerge. FAs tend to keep them quite, but not too, short. I had this problem when working on Chekhov, who wrote all those short stories. In the end I opted for a few brief summaries here and there, as you find in any article on him; but it felt unsatisfactory.
I've removed the extended description of the nature walk. Awadewit 16:44, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
The issue you raise about original research is one that fascinates me. Wikipedia is very contradictory on writing about fiction, but I think it leaves scope to summarise fiction so long as one does it accurately and references an edition of the work as a source. One quotes the story as a reference to itself, in effect, which I think keeps to the spirit of those passages in policy pages which allow self-reference so long it is balanced by other material. Writing summaries is exceptionally difficult, though, isn't it? Especially where, as with Chekhov, the stories aren't self-explanatory.
Yes, it is a very thin line. But there's a thin line in almost any text we word ourselves. We can't just copy from the sources and so we have to find our own words. But what if the source was perfectly written, using les mots justes? We introduce slightly different meanings by using our own words. On the other hand, quite a few books are badly written, so it is often possible to improve on their phrasing (a somewhat arrogant claim there). qp10qp 13:49, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Also, just the act of summarizing a body of scholarship into an article is in its own way original research. Since another editor or another set of editors would have summarized differently (included different material, emphasized different material), there is no way to achieve the mythical WP:NPOV. Awadewit 16:44, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • My second main point relates to the article’s comments on Rousseau. (Before I proceed, let me make clear that I have no time for Rousseau’s view of women whatsoever [or for his quality as a writer: I have read Emile and found it wishy washy—give me Voltaire any day].) I feel that the article does his views on women a disservice by presenting them too crudely. It seems to me that Rousseau constructs an antithetical argument about the qualities of males and females: men are this, but women are that; men have what women lack; women have what men lack, bla bla bla.

Let me refer to the following two statements:

She also directly challenged Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile, which claimed that women were irrational and could not be taught to reason.

Rousseau argued in Emile that women were naturally cunning and manipulative; moreover, he felt that these traits should be encouraged in young girls and that women were incapable of reason and rationality.

It’s a while since I read Emile, and I cannot be sure he never put it like that; but even if he did, we must at least lay out his full argument. I would say that he suggests overall that women’s reason is different to men’s reason, not that they are incapable of reason at all; he sees men as equipped with the ability to reason theoretically, for instance for science, and women as equipped to reason practically, possessing a superior talent in that regard. In his view, this is a clever arrangement on the part of nature, which will keep the world in order if we only attend to it.

I can expand Rousseau's arguments, but since this article is primarily about Wollstonecraft and Original Stories, I tried to keep the Rousseau explication short. Rousseau is a difficult and contradictory writer, but I do not feel that I have represented him unfairly inaccurately (see quotations below). Awadewit 21:49, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

The second extract above cries out for the explanatory, complementary part of the equation, if only because the average reader would surely be brought up short by the idea that Rousseau believed women were not only naturally cunning and manipulative but that they should even be encouraged to be so. How come? Well, a fair summary of his argument might be that he believed that, despite their weakness, women can achieve power over men by the use of their special arts, and that this is actually a good thing, since it will keep men in check and stop them doing too much damage; by this system, he believes, the relationship between men and women can be kept in balance and everyone will be happy

I can use some of the quotes from Rousseau below, if you believe that will help. Awadewit 21:49, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

I suspect that Rousseau’s argument has slipped to a cruder formulation after being refracted, for present purposes, first through Wollstonecraft, then via Wollstonecraft through feminist scholarship on Wollstonecraft, and finally by this article's choice of words. It would be perfectly all right, in my opinion, to say that Wollstonecraft wrote these works against her conception of what Rousseau said, or that scholars have characterised Rousseau’s views as such and such. But it seems to me inaccurate to summarise his views in this context without acknowledging the point of view from which they are summarised (at the very least quote him in the note).

Although I haven’t read Wollstonecraft’s Vindication, I did spend some time yesterday trying to check what she said in it on this matter. She certainly objects to the idea that women should be required to rule men rather than themselves and be obliged to use deceptive arts to do so. She is entitled to distil that message from his theories and expose its implications and limitations. But Wollstonecraft, as far as I can see, doesn’t characterise Rousseau’s views in the same crude terms we use in the article, which reports him as believing merely that women were irrational, cunning (a contradiction there, surely), manipulative, and silly.

Wollstonecraft dedicates a large portion of the fifth chapter of the Vindication of the Rights of Woman to attacks on both Emile and Rousseau personally. You might check that out. She gets pretty vicious.
Here are some quotations from Emile that might illuminate the situation.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Emile, or On Education. Trans. Allan Bloom. New York: Basic Books, 1979.
  • “In what they [men and womne] have in common, they are equal. Where they differ, they are not comparable. A perfect woman and a perfect man ought not to resemble each other in mind any more than in looks, and perfection is not susceptible of more or less. In the union of the sexes each contributes equally to the common aim, but not in the same way. From this diversity arises the first assignable difference in the moral relations of the two sexes. One ought to be active and strong, the other passive and weak. One must necessarily will and be able; it suffices that the other put up little resistance. Once this principle is established, it follows that woman is made specially to please man.” (358) Rousseau never makes clear in Emile what men and women have "in common."
  • “Woman and man are made for one another, but their mutual dependence is not equal. Men depend on women because of their desires; women depend on men because of both their desires and their needs. We would survive more easily without them than they would without us.” (364)
  • “Men’s morals, their passions, their tastes, their pleasures, their very happiness also depend on women. Thus the whole education of women ought to relate to men. To please men, to be useful to them, to make herself loved and honored by them, to raise them when young, to care for them when grown, to counsel them, to console them, to make their lives agreeable and sweet—these are the duties of women at all times, and they ought to be taught from childhood.” (365)
  • “Since the body is born, so to speak, before the soul, the body ought to be cultivated first. This order is common to the two sexes, but the aim of this cultivation is different. For man this aim is the development of strength; for woman it is the development of attractiveness.” (365)
  • “Guile is a natural talent with the fair sex, and since I am persuaded that all the natural inclinations are good and right in themselves, I am of the opinion that this one should be cultivated like the others. The only issue is preventing its abuse. . . . This peculiar cleverness given to the fair sex is a very equitable compensation for their lesser share of strength, a compensation without which women would be not man’s companion but his slave. It is by means of this superiority in talent that she keeps herself his equal and that she governs him while obeying him. . . . She has in her favor only her art and her beauty.” (370-1)
  • “I would want a young Englishwoman to cultivate pleasing talents that will entertain her future husband with as much care as young Albanian cultivates them for the harem of Ispaham.” (374)
  • “Why do you consult their [women's] mouth when it is not the mouth which ought to speak? Consult their eyes, their color, their breathing, their fearful manner, their soft resistance. This is the language nature gives them for answering you. The mouth always says no and ought to say no. But the accent it adds to this answer is not always the same, and this accent does not know how to lie.” (385)
  • “Readers, I leave it to you. Answer in good faith. What gives you a better opinion of a woman on entering her room, what makes you approach her with more respect—to see her occupied with the labors of her sex and the cares of her household, encompassed by her children’s things, or to find her at her dressing table writing verses, surrounded by all sorts of pamphlets and letters written on tinted paper?” (409)
As you can see, although some of Rousseau's statements contain the argument you referred to (men have one set of talents and women have the complementary set), those statements also end with a narrowing of the possibilities for women. Moreover, other statements in Book V make his opinions regarding women even clearer. Awadewit 21:49, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
I must say that I do still feel some adjustment or balancing is necessary. If the article is going to say that Rousseau believed women are manipulative, we should add a balancing sentence or note explaining what he meant by that (the one beginning with "guile" would do well for the latter, since it explains the paradoxical point by showing that Rousseau believed "guile" was a good thing.). It appears that he is not translated as using the words "cunning" or "irrational": those very damning terms should either be replaced by something from his work or balanced by a statement, however absurd, of his on the value of women or their talents. I'd be interested to know what the French word translated as "guile" is, because "cunning" has a damning connotation in English, whereas Rousseau here seems to approve of the characteristic.
By the way, this translation says "coquetry" and "wiles." Awadewit 23:33, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
I think that confirms for me the feeling I have that though Rousseau belittled women, he didn't hate them. For that one has to go to Stendhal. qp10qp 14:04, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
You should read Rousseau's Confessions; his attitude towards his various lovers is fascinating. There is a lot of other great stuff, too - a fun read. There is this intriguing passage about how he decided whether or not he was saved - he threw a stick or a rock at a tree. If it hit the tree, he was saved, if it didn't, he wasn't. I won't spoil the ending. Awadewit 16:44, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
The quotations above give women (and any wise man) very good reason to be angry, of course, since he declares them inferior and designed to please men; I was sure of that already. But he doesn't say that they can't reason at all. qp10qp 22:18, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
I've tried to make some adjustments to the Rousseau sections. Awadewit 01:06, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Again, they might be slightly overdone now, but the article is balanced on Rousseau and the reader isn't jolted. qp10qp 14:10, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I took out a little bit of the Rousseau. Awadewit 16:44, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Alan Richardson appears to have found some later editions of the text; he claims that Original Stories was published until 1835

I wonder if this has been updated now. I notice that he states this as a fact rather than a claim in his essay in The Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft, which must have been approved by the editors. Also, it seems he is not the only one to claim (or state) the same, or maybe even the first: I found this exceptionally infuriating page: try to read that cut-off line at the bottom of the snippet.

I thought that sentence might cause problems. A tiny secret. Editors often don't check on that sort of thing. They would just assume that Richardson was right. Unfortunately, I have never seen an edition after 1818 or 1820 or even a reference to one (I am writing one of my dissertation chapters on this text). Looking at the talk page, you will notice that when I first started really getting into wikipedia, I was trying to fix the date problem on this page. The National Union Catalogue only has listings up until around 1818. Another editor found a listing for 1835 in another database, but it was an approximate date inserted by a librarian (on what basis we have no idea). I do not know how Richardson came up with that date. The reason I put "claim" in the article is because there is no other evidence to support his statement - no books, no records, nothing. I can't really read the link you sent me to. Is it saying there were Dublin editions in 1835 or 1825 (I can't actually read the date)? Where are they getting that information from, I wonder. I would actually really like to know for my own work as well as for the article. My library has this whole set, so I suppose I will have to trudge over there and look it up. It looks like OS might be reprinted in there. Interesting. I didn't know that (I wonder why our online card catalogue didn't tell me about it!). If it is reprinted in the series, I will add it to my list of reprints. Awadewit 23:33, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
It comes like this on the search page if you type in a phrase from the snippet: [1] Not that a search page is reliable (Google Books often even spells authors' names wrong). But I am 80% sure that is a 3 and not a 2. qp10qp 00:08, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
But the whole question is where they are getting that date from. Like I said, I will go check out the book. Awadewit 01:07, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Quotations: I know you reverted me for adding a capital letter to "boy" in "The Little boy Found". I'm not familiar with the scholarly principle for quoting a book with this sort of error in it (by the way, I first checked with the 1794 facsimile, in case Blake had been having one of his calligraphical off-days). Forgive me for suspecting you of an untypical mistake, rather than the publisher; but are you content to let this stand? I'm not going to be the last to want to correct it.
I don't know how much you know about Blake, but all of his illuminated manuscripts are different and he did not follow "conventional" typography (which didn't really exist as we know it at that time, anyway, so its hard to call it a mistake). Capitalization "rules" were very unclear during the eighteenth century. Authors usually determined their own rules on that. I can do a little "The Little [B]oy Found" if you think that is better, but, honestly, I don't see the necessity. All of the illuminated manuscripts I checked at the Blake Archive do indeed have the capital, but there may be some myserious Blakean reason that Mitchell wanted the lower-case letter. To me, this is not a clear-cut mistake because Blake's orthography and typography was just so eccentric. Awadewit 01:05, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

On the subject of that quotation, it seems to me far too long and out of proportion to the importance of its contentious point. It's not one of Blake's best works, so I hardly think he would have put all the thought into it that this critic suggests, not that my opinion on that is relevant. If I was editing this, I'd keep a small quote, from "hats to child", maybe, and add a one-sentence paraphrase of the writer's overall interpretation in the note.

I used to have a much shorter version of the quotation (you can go back in the history to April 17 "revising per peer review" to see the changes), but other reviewers felt that it did not adequately explain Mitchell's interpretation (see above and my talk page). They felt it made Mitchell's interpretation look simplistic, so I decided to expand it out because that was not my intention. I'm afraid that if you want to dispute how much thought Blake put into his works, you will have to provide some sources on that! You said that you are interested in eighteenth-century art; surely you have seen arguments like this before? (Also, "not one of his best works"? Now we're starting to make value judgments? :) ) To talk about this section in larger terms, it is difficult to write it because so little has been published on the illustrations, but I did feel that it would be wrong to leave out the topic all together and I, of course, can't just insert my own ideas into the article. Awadewit 01:05, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, I'm always happy to indulge in original research and opinions on talk pages. It affects my judgement about articles in omitting rather than adding. It's the same with you wondering where that website got its information from: you wouldn't just take it as read.
I don't know as much about Blake as I should, though I have spent some time looking at his manuscripts in dark rooms at the Tate. The truth is, I don't like his work very much. But I'm an obsessive Samuel Palmer nut, Palmer being one of Blake's acolytes, and have made pilgrimages to Oxford just to look at the drawings I fell in love with as a student. They keep them locked away now, and I have to badger the snooty curators to get them out of the drawers for me (I'm planning to steal one).
Only joking.
I've got a house full of art books, but let me tell you, there's hardly a decent page of scholarly criticism in any one of them. The standard is abysmal compared to that for literature or history. Mitchell's mistake is Mitchell's mistake, whether of accuracy or of judgement; if it's not a mistake, it's an act of stupidity. Eccentric though Blake is, the capitalization in Songs is standard on all the copies and in all the printed versions I've been able to check. Of course, it's conceivable there might be exceptions, but that still wouldn't justify the decision—if it is a decision and not a printing error. qp10qp 03:00, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm curious, what books do you have? A lot of those coffee table books don't have any scholarship in them or very poor scholarship, but there is actually very good scholarship out there. I could send you a little bibliography on some topics that you are interested in, if you want. I was an English-Art history double major as an undergraduate, so I have a bunch of bibliographies lying around from all of my survey courses. Art history professors are very helpful that way. (I will change the Mitchell quote - who knows what happened with that. Maybe he'll come by and tell us!) Awadewit 03:46, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, I should have made clear what I meant by "scholarly criticism", which was the value-judgement side of it, rather than the art history...the sort of wiffly theorising that we have here from Mitchell. Of course, there is magnificent scholarship otherwise. My prized possession is a huge book on Egon Schiele which contains reproductions of every last bit of his work, finished or unfinished (apart from one, discovered since), all annotated microscopically. I will use it to bring the Wikipedia article on him up to scratch one day. I have all types of books on art, from coffee table ones to ones with no pictures. I just find the prose in them very dreary on the whole, either pedestrian on the one hand or pretentious on the other. A particular victim is Paula Rego, one of my favourite artists, who has become a real pretentious-drivel magnet. My favourite eighteenth-century artist is Jean-Baptiste Chardin; I have a little Chardin at the top of my talk page. qp10qp 14:33, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
A lot of those books that contain all of the reproductions don't contain a lot of scholarship - you are right. It is best to go elsewhere for that. What do you mean by "pretentious"? Awadewit 16:44, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

I was also not happy with a couple of things in the long quote by Gary Kelly:

The first part of the title indicates that the ‘stories’ are not merely fictitious but have a factual basis in domestic, quotidian life, though readers would understand ‘from real life’ to mean ‘based on’ or ‘adapted from real ‘life’, and not necessary ‘representation of actual events’.

I've read that over and over, and it seems to me that "necessary" should be "necessarily".

The phrase ‘real life’ strengths ‘original’ excluding both the artificial and the fictional or imaginary.

That "sentence" lost me completely. qp10qp 00:00, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Fixed those problems. Incorrectly copied quotation. Awadewit 01:05, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Religion is rather skirted round in the article. We could almost get the impression from this article, by omission, that Wollstonecraft's belief in reason had taken her beyond religion as well, but she thinks it a significant part of the book's moral apparatus: "The Almighty, who never afflicts but to produce some good end, first sends diseases to children to teach them patience and fortitude; and when by degrees they have learned to bear them, they have acquired some virtue". It makes me wonder if Wollstonecraft was as much influenced, though not so consciously, by the religious tradition of giving children a strict moral upbringing as she was by the growth of rational moralism (or that one was more a product of the other than it acknowledged, both taking against fairy tales, paganism, or whatever, in a rigid way). Your article on Barbauld showed me that the new style of children's literature was not without a religious dimension traceable back to Pilgrim's Progress, or whatever.
Yes, I know. You are right to notice that Wollstonecraft was highly influenced by the Pilgrim's Progress tradition; in the children's literature tradition, one can trace it back to James Janeway's Token for Children (1672) which is a collection of miniature spiritual biographies just like Jane Fretful's story in Original Stories (might Jane's name be a reference?). Unfortunately, nothing has been published on this. One of my dissertation chapters deals with this topic (and quotes just that passage from OS), but my dissertation is not yet completed (so I cannot quote it). I am currently writing an article based on that chapter and trying to get it published. If I do, I will add it to the article. Awadewit 03:46, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Another aspect of historical context that could be noted is the tradition of works concerning a governess, parent or tutor in dialogue with her charges. You mention conduct books without drawing that out. It appears Newbery had published the genre quite a lot.
  • Newbery published a lot (interestingly, he made his fortune off of some medicinal powder - it was quackery). Conduct books were published by everybody, though. Conduct books also don't all have this dialogic structure (I'm beginning to feel that I should write an article on conduct books - I have to explain them in every article I write); that is why I made of mention of Madame de Genlis's books which do have this same structure (a lot of children's books did). Unfortunately, again, there is no good study of this topic - just little references here and there, as far as I know. There really is very little written on eighteenth-century children's literture. It is a burgeoning field. Awadewit 03:46, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Is it worth mentioning the ages of the children, who are described merely as "young girls"? They could be five, they could be twelve. It makes a difference, since both Locke and Rousseau seemed to have had fixed ideas about when children become rational beings.
Yes, it is. Awadewit 03:46, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • The note mentions that Wollstonecraft had worked as a governess of two girls with the same names: to me that sounds a significant enough detail to deserve mention in the article proper.
I didn't think it was that relevant to the plot summary, but I can put it in. Awadewit 03:46, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I was not so much thinking of the plot summary as of the background to the book. qp10qp 14:44, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure it really fits there as I have structed the "Historical context" as a history of Wollstonecraft's writing career. Awadewit 16:44, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • The article emphasizes experiental learning over precepts, but it sounds, as far as I can gather, as if Mrs Mason was using experiences as an excuse to rattle off precepts. "Adieu! When you think of your friend, observe her precepts." Was she not using a combination of the two?
Yes, that is how I interpret it as well, but that is not what the most reputable scholars emphasize. You can go back to Summerfield for an interpretation like that but when you read the rest of his book, you won't want to use it. Again, I am limited by the sources here. Wait until you see my Sarah Trimmer page - I don't even have a real biography for that page. It's a nightmare. Awadewit 03:46, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
You should try writing articles on early medieval history. qp10qp 14:44, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Coming back to Rousseau...odd he's not mentioned in the "Gender" section. I would have expected it there.
Yes, I realized after I finished the article that perhaps that would have been more appropriate. Do you think I should move the whole section on Rousseau? Awadewit 03:46, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Part of it, perhaps. qp10qp 14:44, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I've tried to move part of it. Awadewit 16:44, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Congratulations. Great article. qp10qp 02:27, 22 April 2007 (UTC)