Menie Muriel Dowie's A Girl in the Karpathians (1891): Girlhood and the Spirit of Adventure

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Abstract

Although she did not feature in W. T. Stead's influential 1894 essay “The Novel of the Modern Woman,” Ménie Muriel Dowie (1867–1945) was firmly established as one of the pre-eminent New Woman writers after the publication of Gallia in 1895. A controversial novel in which “the eugenic project is overt,” Gallia has been of some interest to scholars of the New Woman novel (Ledger 70). Despite this, Dowie remains one of the more obscure of the New Woman writers and her work beyond Gallia is seldom discussed. However, one hundred years after its first publication, Gallia was reprinted by Everyman in 1995. Helen Small's introduction to this edition also contains the fullest account of Dowie's life to date, in which the author is shown to be “every bit as defiant of convention as the heroine of her first novel” (xxvi). But, as Small points out in this introduction, it was her 1891 book A Girl in the Karpathians, a vivacious account of a summer of intrepid independent travel undertaken in 1890 when Dowie was twenty-two years old and unmarried, as opposed to Gallia that first established Dowie's considerable contemporary literary reputation. A Girl in the Karpathians enjoyed enthusiastic reviews and impressive sales. The Review of Reviews deemed it “[t]he most noticed, and in some respects most noticeable, book of the month” (“The New Books of the Month” 627). In the first year alone, the book went through five English, four American, and one German edition, and its author quickly became something of a literary celebrity (Small xxviii). According to John Sutherland, Dowie proudly claimed that the book received four hundred reviews, all unanimous in their praise (195).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)841-856
JournalVictorian Literature and Culture
Volume43
Issue number4
Early online date05 Aug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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