Marie Jeanne Riccoboni’s Epistolary Feminism : Fact, Fiction, and Voice book cover
1st Edition

Marie Jeanne Riccoboni’s Epistolary Feminism
Fact, Fiction, and Voice

ISBN 9780367858520
Published May 12, 2020 by Routledge
184 Pages

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Book Description

Marie Jeanne Riccoboni’s Epistolary Feminism: Fact, Fiction, and Voice argues that Riccoboni is among the most significant women writers of the French Enlightenment due to her "epistolary feminism". Locating its source in her first novel Lettres de Mistriss Fanni Butlerd (1757), between fact and fiction, public and private, Marijn S. Kaplan provides new evidence supporting both the novel’s autobiography theory and de Maillebois hypothesis. Kaplan then traces how Riccoboni progressively develops a proto-feminist poetics of voice in her epistolary fiction, empowering women to resist patriarchal efforts to silence and appropriate them, which culminates in her final novel Lettres de Milord Rivers (1777). In nineteen relatively unknown letters (included, with translations) written over three decades to her publisher Humblot, several editors, Diderot, Laclos, Philip Thicknesse etc., Riccoboni is shown similarly to defend her oeuvre, her reputation, and her authority as a woman (writer), refusing to be manipulated and silenced by men.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Lettres de Fanni Butlerd (1757):

The Facts of Fiction and the Fiction of Facts

Chapter 2: Proto-Feminist Female Identity through Marginal Epistolarity:

From Lettres de Juliette Catesby (1759) to Histoire de Miss Jenny


Chapter 3: Perfecting Epistolary Feminism:

From Lettres d’Adélaïde de Dammartin (1767) to Lettres de Sophie

de Vallière (1772)

Chapter 4: Culminating Epistolary Feminism:

Lettres de Mylord Rivers (1777)

Chapter 5: Epistolary Feminism Attacked in Translation:

Percival Stockdale’s Letters from Lord Rivers (1778)


Chapter 6: Epistolary Feminism and Letters

Chapter 7: Final Published Letters: Thicknesse (1780) and Laclos (1782)




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Marijn S. Kaplan is a Professor of French at the University of North Texas, where she also chairs the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures. She has published extensively on eighteenth-century French women writers—particularly Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni, Françoise de Graffigny, and Sophie Cottin—epistolary fiction, and correspondence.


"This thoughtful and intriguing work invites readers to re-examine Riccoboni’s epistolary novels in a new way, and to reconsider the role of her proto-feminism in her fiction as well as in her correspondence. The study provides a new and informative understanding of Riccoboni’s works for anyone studying or teaching her works." Jeanne Hageman (North Dakota State University) The French Review 95.1