Wikipedia:WikiProject Novels/Peer review/Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman

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Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman[edit]

The Wrongs of Woman is one of Mary Wollstonecraft's two novels. I would like to spruce up this article and make it GA and, eventually, FA. Please critique accordingly. Awadewit | talk 11:52, 14 July 2007 (UTC)

Hi Awadewit, just a few stray thoughts from reading the article:
  • Lead: "uses the story ... to criticize" could probably be put more elegantly. The "uses" jars a bit, I think.
  • Reordered sentence to remove "uses". Awadewit | talk 04:37, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Plot summary: I'm a bit taken aback that "protagonist" and "bastard" are linked. Do they need to be? On the other hand, "bound out as an apprentice", which I think should be linked, should probably be linked not to Apprentice but to bonded labour or something like that. And does "Abortion" need to be linked - do you expect anyone to read the article who doesn't know that word? Also, I think sections should be balanced - if there's a subsection "Manuscript fragments", then the first part should probably also be a subsection, namely "Published version" or something like that.
  • I think that "protagonist" and "bastard" have to be linked, unfortunately. I was actually asked to link "bastard" on another article. I have linked "apprentice" to "indentured servant". I have de-linked "abortion". Awadewit | talk
  • I have clarified that all parts of the manuscript were published. I am willing to give the other subsection a name, if we can think of one. The distinction between the "plot" and the "endings" is along the lines of "More polished parts of the manuscript" and "Less polished parts of the manuscript", but I have not come up with a good way to say that yet. Do you have any ideas? Awadewit | talk 04:37, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Hm. First of all, re-reading this section, I think the difficulty should be mentioned right away, before you even start to tell "the" plot, i.e. I think you should move the account at the beginning of "Manuscript fragments" to the top. The what you're now telling as "the plot" is presumably "Godwin's published version"; the alternative endings are, well, "Alternative endings". I think the final paragraph on how difficult W found it to write the novel doesn't belong into the "plot summary". They would probably belong into a "Genesis of the novel" (working section title) section, perhaps along with the influences (Jacobin novel) that are now in other sections? --Markus Poessel 17:16, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I have taken your excellent suggestion of mentioning MW's struggles to write the novel first under a "Manuscript drafts" subsection. Then follow "Plot summary" and "Fragmentary endings" (the entire section has now been renamed "Composition, publication, and plot summary"). The endings aren't really "alternative endings" because there is no ending to the book as it stands - the story just stops. What follows the last sentence of MW"s manuscript is a "Conclusion" with a list of MW's jottings on possible endings. Awadewit | talk 03:39, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I think that's a definite improvement, and would even be in favour of expanding "Manuscript drafts" into a proper "Genesis" (or whatever the appropriate literary term is) section. --Markus Poessel 20:17, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I think a "Genesis" section would actually be too broad for the article, as it would encompass too much Wollstonecraft biography. Awadewit | talk 05:13, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
  • The way you have re-structured the first section ("Composition...") is perfectly sufficient to address my concerns - there doesn't have to be a larger "Genesis" section, in my view. Markus Poessel 14:55, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
  • I have no idea whether or not this Wikiproject has a preferred order of sections; personally, I would prefer "Themes" to come before "Style" - in order of importance (for me, at least).
  • I have placed "Style" first because it has some general background knowledge that I think would be helpful for the reader, such as what Wollstonecraft thought a good novel should be. Was this kind of information not helpful to you? Order of importance would put "Plot summary" at the end, wouldn't it? :) Awadewit | talk 04:37, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • To me, it was a bit odd. I think what you call the "helpful background information", if by that you mean that she was working as an editor etc. at the time, should really go into a section about how the novel was written (proposed as "Genesis of the novel" in my previous remark). First the genesis, then a plot summary, then the themes, then style; that would be my personal preference. --Markus Poessel 17:16, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • My purpose in mentioning the editorialship, for example, was not primarily to say that she was an editor but rather to introduce the quotation on what MW thought a novel should be. Her ideas regarding the novel belong in the "Style" section, I think. Are you saying that the tidbit about her as an editor would best be removed from the "Style" section? I'm not sure that I want to decouple all biographical information from the discussion of the book... Awadewit | talk 03:39, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Oh, I definitely understood that in this section, the fact that she was an editor was meant to introduce something else. I just think that this fact is important enough to deserve mention in its own right. In what I'm still calling a "Genesis" section, for want of a better word, for instance. --Markus Poessel 20:17, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • OK - I think it's more readable that way. Markus Poessel 14:55, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Style: for Free_indirect_discourse, I would hope for a brief definition in the text, so the reader doesn't have to click the Wikilink.
  • Themes: I still think that, in a section with so many subsections, the first paragraphs (those not part of their own titled subsection) should at least hint at the subsection to come, e.g. mention slavery, sisterhood etc.
  • First attempt completed. Awadewit | talk 03:39, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • You mentioned that you were worried about too many "Scholar XY says this" and "Scholar YZ wrote this" (my clumsy simplification). I agree that, starting in the Themes section, this becomes somewhat noticeable. Unless you're quoting a piece of scholarly work that is in itself a classic, or contains an especially pithy formulation it would be a pity to omit, I would simply suggest to paraphrase - not only the articular sentence you're now quoting, but also a bit of the context in which it appears in that scholar's work. In some cases, a "it has been claimed that" or "it has been argued that" might do instead of citing the scholar's full name in the text (you are citing it in the footnote, of course). If you don't want to leave names out, it would be good to have some more original text in between the different quotations, summarizing, for instance, what is about to be quoted and the context of the quotes.
  • I also thought the problem arose in the "Themes" section. Unfortunately, passive constructions are really frowned on in literature articles, since it is not the authoritative voice of a discipline speaking (as it is in science). I can see the FAC comments now...."Who claimed?" "Who argued?"
  • I have already paraphrased a number of quotations - I will work on doing more of them. Awadewit | talk 04:37, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • See if it is improved at all. Awadewit | talk 05:41, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I think there definitely has been improvement. In passing, I noticed that Mitzi Myers is placed a bit problematically; the quote immediately preceding your introduction of her name apparently comes from her work, too, so the phrase about what she noted should probably come at the beginning. --Markus Poessel 17:16, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I think that would be misleading because Myers uses those words to describe how others view MW, not how she herself views MW. It is one of the rare instances when I have an actual quote for the "people usually think this" statement. Awadewit | talk 03:39, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Probably depends on how you put it. I was thinking something like "As Mitzi Myers has noted, while MW is usually described as "XY", her works do not actually support YZ...". Otherwise, the first quotation really does dangle a bit out in the open. --Markus Poessel 20:17, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Done. I used "observed". Awadewit | talk 05:13, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Marriage and slavery -> the bit about "bourgeois institutions" sounds as if it should go into the "class" subsection, and might not the "breathtaking" aspect in the final paragraph be better placed in the "Reception" section?
  • I debated where to put the "bourgeois institutions" quotation. I think it really does belong in the "Marriage" section, though, since it says that marriage is the principal instrument by which women are controlled. Awadewit | talk 04:49, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Hm. I would have thought that, in that case, it should be listed in class, with an additional reference in the marriage section. --Markus Poessel 17:16, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I can't mention it twice - "people" will complain about repetition. Since marriage is the specific institution that is controlling middle-class women, I decided to put it under marriage. If I were to put it under "Class", I'm not sure where it would go. That whole section is really about Jemima-related issues. Awadewit | talk 03:39, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I have moved the "breathtaking" quotation to the "Reception" - excellent suggestion! Awadewit | talk 04:49, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • In the Sentimentalism and Sensibility section, I first had to read up on those two terms. I know you're argued elsewhere that, just as there are technical science articles, there are also unavoidably technical lit-crit subjects; however, if you want this particular article to be generally accessible, it would be good if a brief and unobtrusive explanation of these two terms could be included in the section that bears their name.
  • I defined "sensibility" in my article on A Vindication of the Rights of Woman article because I thought more people might read that who had no familiarity with eighteenth-century literature. This page is a little more obscure, I think, and I would assume that anyone bothering to read it would already have a passing familiarity with the term. "Sensibility" is actually a very difficult term to define. I'm not entirely happy with what I have at Rights of Woman, but do you think I should copy it over? Awadewit | talk 04:37, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • May be a slightly briefer version of what you wrote there, yes. --Markus Poessel 17:16, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • First attempt has been added. Awadewit | talk 03:39, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I think it's nice - and not too long, so hopefully those in the know won't be bothered by it. --Markus Poessel 20:17, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • "who are dependent on men and demonstrates" -> "who are dependent on men, and demonstrates"
  • How embarrassing. Awadewit | talk 04:37, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • "Thus, rather than eliciting only pity and charity from Maria and the reader, Jemima forges a bond with them." - I don't quite get how this follows from what has been said before.
  • Tried to explain better. Awadewit | talk 04:37, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Makes more sense to me now. --Markus Poessel 20:17, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Feminism and sisterhood: The text in this subsection appears to me to be a bit thin on sisterhood - the tie of common motherhood is mentioned, but the cross-class aspect is explored not in this section, but a previous one; are the "revolutionary aspects" mentioned here briefly (and, to me, confusingly) those same cross-class aspects?
  • I have renamed the sections - see if the new names clarify. Do I need to rearrange material? Awadewit | talk 04:49, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I think the new names work; the "Motherhood..." now appears to represent better what's in there. Except that I would be glad if you could make a bit clearer what the "revolutionary aspects" in the last paragraph are - simply the kind of friendship? --Markus Poessel 17:16, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Now reads: the revolutionary aspects of the cross-class friendship between Jemima and Maria. Awadewit | talk 04:24, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • That makes it clearer, in my view. --Markus Poessel 20:17, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Autobiographical elements: The judgement by Hannah More comes as a bit of a surprise, in between the statement that there are many autobiographical aspects, and a list of some of these, it seems to me a bit misplaced. Wouldn't More fit better into the Reception section?
  • Wollstonecraft feared her work would be read as a mirror of her life and it has, ever since its publication - The More statement was supposed to support this statement. I have added a "for example" to help make the connection. Awadewit | talk 04:49, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Not quite clear yet since, as far as I can see, we only later learn about the role adultery played in her life. At the moment, it reads like she feared autobiographical interpretation, and then comes a quote that, taken by itself, doesn't appear to make an autobiographical connection at all (rather a more general statement about morals). --Markus Poessel 17:16, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Oh, yes, now I see. Doesn't everyone know the story of MW's life? :) Fixed and moved to the "Reception" section. Awadewit | talk 04:24, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
Makes much more sense that way, to me at least. As for everyone knowing the story of MW's life, you know how it is – once in high school, it might turns out that you cannot just take Wollstonecraft 101, The Riemann Tensor 101 and Simpsonology 101 in parallel – you have to choose... --Markus Poessel 20:17, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Too true. Too true. Awadewit | talk 05:13, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Reception and Legacy: the start of this section is a bit confusing - right away, it focuses on one particular rather special aspect. I would have expected something more general - some more general statments that, say, when it was published, it was widely read/not read/widely commented upon/ignored (or whatever); only then should follow something on what the contemporaries saw in it, what they overlooked, and so on - more of a summary instead of the two long quotes from two specific reviews. Also, it seems to me a bit odd that the important information that the novel is "now read as the progenitor of many feminist texts and the inspiration for many feminist arguments and rhetorical styles" is tucked away into a "while" clause - it's an important statement about legacy in its own right, and should be presented as such.
  • First revision. See if I am heading in the right direction. Awadewit | talk 04:24, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Definitely the right direction, but at the moment it reads a bit cut-and-pasted. I suppose an overall arc from the personal (which makes for a good start in the present version) to the more political and the modern feminist connection might be a good way of structuring this section. At the moment, it still goes a bit back and forth between the two. --Markus Poessel 20:17, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I have reordered the final section - see what you think. The feminist clause is "tucked away" because, so far, that is all I could find - vague references to later inspirations. Awadewit | talk 05:13, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
  • The section's fine now, from my point of view. Markus Poessel 14:55, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, that's it from a casual reading of the article. I've told you before I'm not an expert on this topic, but may be I should put it here, for the record, as well. --Markus Poessel 19:59, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Wonderful! Thanks so much! I will address these points over the course of the next few days. Awadewit | talk 01:05, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Great - from my point of view, you've now addressed all the objections I had. As far as I'm concerned, we can declare this review successfully closed! --Markus Poessel 14:55, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your invaluable help! Awadewit | talk 02:38, 7 September 2007 (UTC)