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The Fantomina Phenomenon:
Transcript of The Fantomina Phenomenon:
-The publication of
The Masquerade Novels of Eliza Haywood
(1986) coincided with several masquerade studies
-In Haywood find an early modern model of female sexual agency
Fantomina: Or, Love in a Maze
Haywood and Fantomina
-In trying to explain Fantomina, critics have heightened Haywood's biographical mystique
-Manages formal elements of diction, voice, and episodic structure
The Appeal Today
-Distinct voice. Phrasing blurs realms of passion and caricature
Haywod possess "an ironic self-consciousness" about narrative voice
Eliza Haywood and the Formation of a Heroine
-Helped to launch 18th century England's most prolific women writer
-First appeared in Volume 3 of
Secret Histories, Novels, and Poems
-Wasn't separately printed until late 20th century
-No conclusions can be drawn about how received
hadn't appeared in Haywood's biography until 1981
-Protagonist in no other role other than a female subordiate
-Fantomina is a type of "Great Arbitress of Passion"
-It lends an unexpected modernity as well as overlaps with aspects of Haywood's career
-Difficult to dissociate the Historical Haywood from her heroine.
-Sustained scholarship worked to elevate Haywood to a status scarcely credible less than 30 years ago
-The play embodies the tropes of artifice, voyeurism, mutability, and sexual fluidity
-Emphasizes the role of disguises and sartorial display
"It is not possible, perhaps, to escape the exquisitely nostaligic afterimage the idea of the masquerade leaves-or its hints ... of a human experience replete
at once with beauty and grotesquerie, seriousness and frivolity."
-Redefined 18th century conceptions of female virtues beyond that of chastity and persecuted maidenhood
-Readings highlight the heroine's passion and level of control represent in part a projection of the desire for sexual freedom that the protagonist may presumably possess
-Included feminist views of fluidity, subversiveness, and female jouissance
-"As the novella presens a sexy read, a textual Victoria's Secret store in its tasteful erotics, this infectious element, not surprisingly, entered early criticism and animated the wider Haywood Renaissance."
-Haywood had experience as a playwright and an actress.
-The theatrical framing offers interplay with Haywood's dramatic career
-Textual ambiguity and the masquerade theme compliment Haywood's biography or lack thereof
-Gaps in her biography lend intrigue, a quality of the masquerade, and a type of modesty
-It generates hermeneutical ambivalence among and within individual readers
-It offers a crossover appeal with areas that have received increased attention in the psychology of women, namely, sexual trauma and romantic obsession
-Structure. A travel narrative juxtaposing public and private as well as indoor and outdoor settings
-Diction. It balances histrionic interjections and epithets with a procedural exactness
-Ending. Its strategic ambivalence creates a win-win situation for readers
phenomenon marks an epoch in eighteenth century studies, gender studies, and the sociology of masquerade
-Trauma narrative in which Fantomina strugles to redefine her sexuality and reclaim control in her life
-Compulsive passion and romantic obsession. Love may approach or enter obsession
-"Why we choose to attempt to love certain individuals?"
-Fantomina's changes offer a metaphor of the repeated creation of new personae for commercial intent.
-Haywood was a woman of stratagems
-Fantomina is a metatext of Haywood's mutability, mystery, and negotiation with a libertine ethos