Carers or Consumers?
- Women and Enlightenment in 18th-Century Britain by Karen O’Brien
Cambridge, 310 pp, £17.99, March 2009, ISBN 978 0 521 77427 7
In 1779, a Scottish doctor called William Alexander published a two-volume History of Women. Alexander was a man of the Enlightenment who regarded politeness to women as a mark of civilisation. Savages and ‘musselmen’ might treat their women as sexual helots, but a gentleman was solicitous of his womenfolk. Whether women deserved such treatment was another matter. Modern European women were commendably good-hearted, always ‘exerting themselves in acts of benevolence and charity’, but also dissipated and extravagant: ‘Is not the course which you steer in life, almost entirely directed by fashion and pleasure?’
The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.
You are not logged in
[*] Women, Gender and Enlightenment edited by Sarah Knott and Barbara Taylor (Palgrave, 2005).