Margaret the First

Margaret the First

Book - 2016
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Margaret the First dramatizes the life of Margaret Cavendish, the shy, gifted, and wildly unconventional seventeenth-century duchess. The eccentric Margaret wrote and published volumes of poems, philosophy, feminist plays, and utopian science fiction at a time when "being a writer" was not an option open to women. As one of the Queen's attendants and the daughter of prominent Royalists, she was exiled to France when King Charles I was overthrown. As the English Civil War raged on, Margaret met and married William Cavendish, who encouraged her writing and her desire for a career. After the War, her work earned her both fame and infamy in England; at the dawn of daily newspapers, she was "Mad Madge," an original tabloid celebrity. Yet Margaret was also the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London-a mainstay of the Scientific Revolution-and the last for another two hundred years. Margaret the First is very much a contemporary novel set in the past. Written with lucid precision and sharp cuts through narrative time, it is a gorgeous and wholly new approach to imagining the life of a historical woman.
Publisher: Brunswick, Vic. : 2016. Scribe,
ISBN: 9781925321654
Branch Call Number: AF DUTT


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Sep 28, 2018

What an interesting novel! Often poetic, with carefully placed elisions. The presentation of a time when people (i.e., men) were trying to figure out how the world works was dramatic, and such a contrast to the present when we (assume we) know quite a lot of physics and chemistry and medicine... Margaret speculates on fine webs in the air being what holds us down from floating off into space. The medical treatments described were unnerving: "excrement of a virile ram rubbed across my belly" to address Margaret's infertility; for William's virility, tonic of backbones of vipers, and anointing his toes in Spanish oil each night. Margaret presented such contrasts: quiet thoughtfulness and questioning while the 'learned men' spoke; amazing courage in publicizing her views and responses to their assertions, self-publishing, and sending copies of her books to royalty and leaders in the intellectual world; and vain seeking of fame. The greatest appeal for me was her drive to write and to figure things out for herself, with William's consistent support even while Margaret was becoming known as Mad Madge.

Jan 20, 2018

The author did a great job bringing this unique woman to life...would be a fantastic subject for a movie.

Sep 25, 2016

Lyrical and light as air, also witty and full of insight, this book is fun to read and poignant to the last page. Surely, Margaret The First, will stay with me to last. I agree, Virginia spoke to my mind and Margaret fills my heart.

Jul 17, 2016

This book is a quick read and quite fun! Unique prose!

Jun 22, 2016

Short, lovely, weird little novel about one of the 1st female professional writers. The cover is just beautiful, as is Dutton's writing.

Jun 05, 2016

Possibly the most remarkable aspect of this very strange book is the degree to which the writer matches and merges her own spectacular prose with that written by her subject, Margaret Cavendish. As historical novels or biographies go, this one is truly unique.
"If atoms are so small, why not worlds inside our own? A world inside a peach pit? Inside a ball of snow? And so I conjured one inside a lady's earring, where seasons pass, life and death, without the lady's hearing."
In tackling Margaret's story, Dutton takes flight where Virginia Woolf leaves off in "A Room of One's Own". But Dutton's prose is a great deal more palatable and lyrical --despite Woolf's exalted reputation, she could be tiresome. Encompassing the story of Margaret's life, complete with decorative, whimsical prose in only 160 pages, Dutton even proves the virtue of brevity, which Woolf did not.

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