Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley: Writing Lives

By Helen M. Buss; D. L. Macdonald et al. | Go to book overview

“The History of My Own Heart”:
Inscribing Self, Inscribing Desire in
Wollstonecraft's Letters from Norway

Eleanor Ty

Letters Written during a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1796) signals a turning point in Mary Wollstonecraft's career. In this book, Wollstonecraft develops a voice and style different from those of her juvenile fiction and her polemical essays. More than she was able to do before, she integrates her public and private selves, writing a narrative that incorporates observations about the culture of Scandinavia, about its landscape, about nature, about the joys and pains she encounters during her journey, through the genre of a travel book in the form of letters. Mitzi Myers has remarked that the book is a “generic hybrid, a kind of subjective autobiography superimposed on a travelogue” (“Mary Wollstonecraft's Letters” 166). Gary Kelly notes that Letters from Norway “includes lyrical description, apostrophe, self-reflection, political disquisition, deictic expressions, anecdotes, autobiographical allusions, literary quotations, maxims and typographical devices of expressivity” (Revolutionary Feminism 178). In Syndy Conger's reading, Letters from Norway marks Wollstonecraft's “complete and newly self-conscious return to the ethics and aesthetics of sensibility” (Mary Wollstonecraft 147),

Notes are on pp. 83–84.

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