Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark

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9781481815697: Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark
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Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1796) is a personal travel narrative by the eighteenth-century British feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft. The twenty-five letters cover a wide range of topics, from sociological reflections on Scandinavia and its peoples to philosophical questions regarding identity. Published by Wollstonecraft's career-long publisher, Joseph Johnson, it was the last work issued during her lifetime. Wollstonecraft undertook her tour of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark in order to retrieve a stolen treasure ship for her lover, Gilbert Imlay. Believing that the journey would restore their strained relationship, she eagerly set off. However, over the course of the three months she spent in Scandinavia, she realized that Imlay had no intention of renewing the relationship. The letters, which constitute the text, drawn from her journal and from missives she sent to Imlay, reflect her anger and melancholy over his repeated betrayals. Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark is therefore both a travel narrative and an autobiographical memoir.

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Book Description:

These twenty-five letters, published in 1796, describe Mary Wollstonecraft's audacious trip to Scandinavia to retrieve a stolen ship for her lover Imlay. More than just a travelogue, they provide fascinating insights into the radical philosophy of this influential thinker, and the inner turmoil she was experiencing at the time.

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“The art of travelling is only a branch of the art of thinking,” Mary Wollstonecraft wrote in one of her many reviews of works of travel writing. A Short Residence is her own travel memoir. In a series of letters addressed to an unnamed lover, the work narrates Wollstonecraft’s journey through Scandinavia in 1795, on much of which she was accompanied by her infant daughter. Passionate and personal, A Short Residence is at once a moving epistolary travel narrative, a politically-motivated ethnographic tract, a work of scenic tourism, and a sentimental journey. It is both as much a work of political thought as Wollstonecraft’s better known treatises, and a brilliant, innovative, and influential work in the genre.

This Broadview edition provides a helpful introduction and extensive appendices that contextualize this remarkable text in relation to key political and aesthetic debates. It also includes a significant selection from Wollstonecraft’s travel reviews.

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