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or, Man as he is Not

Written by: Robert Bage
Edited by: Pamela Perkins

Series: Broadview Editions
1st Edition

Publication Date: February 05, 2002
387pp • Paperback
ISBN: 9781551112794 / 1551112795
Volume: 0

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Robert Bage's Hermsprong satirizes English society of the 1790s targeting, in particular, corrupt clergymen, grasping lawyers and wicked aristocrats. The protagonist, a European raised among Native Americans, visits Europe and is dismayed by what he encounters. While such satire might seem conventional enough, Hermsprong is distinguished from other political novels of the period by its comedy, and it is a measure of Bage's success that he won the admiration of writers as different in political outlook as Mary Wollstonecraft and Sir Walter Scott. Indeed, Hermsprong is built around debate, and celebrates the pleasures of the lively exchange of ideas.

This Broadview edition contains extensive primary source appendices including material by William Godwin, Benjamin Franklin, Pierre de Charlevoix, and Voltaire.


“A novel that argues for the need for wit, tolerance, and free play of intelligence not only tells us about its origins in political debates of the1790s, but also is of urgent interest to twenty-first century readers. Bravo Pamela Perkins and Broadview Press for producing this wonderful edition of Hermsprong. Bage himself would be pleased.” - Lisa Vargo, University of Saskatchewan

“Having come to expect exceptionally high standards from Broadview, I am delighted to find that Hermsprong, edited by Pamela Perkins, does not disappoint.  Perkins' introduction is perceptive and intelligent, balancing genuine enthusiasm for the novel with a judicious assessment of its place in literary history.  The appendices are useful, including contemporary reviews, Bage's own thoughts on novel writing, and material relating to perceptions of America in the eighteenth century.  The text itself, based chiefly on the first edition of 1796, is clearly laid out and helpfully annotated. In short, this is an excellent and much-needed edition.” - Jane Hodson, University of Sheffield  

"At last, Bage's witty and unconventional novel is back in print. With its delightful strategies for challenging English practices from the treatment of daughters to the conversion of Indians, Hermsprong is unique among political and domestic fictions of the 1790s. Thanks to Pamela Perkins's fine introduction and appendices, this eminently teachable novel, and its unusual author, will be much better understood." - Susan S. Lanser, Brandeis University 

Pamela Perkins has written on Romantic literature and is the editor (with Shannon Russell) of the Broadview Literary Texts edition of Translations of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah. She teaches English at the University of Manitoba.

Academics please note that this is a title classified as having a restricted allocation of complimentary copies. While the availability of bound complimentary copies is restricted to desk copies only, electronic complimentary copies are readily available for those professors wishing to consider this title for possible course adoption. Should you choose to adopt the book after viewing an electronic copy we will be happy to provide a bound desk copy.

Table of Contents: [Back to Top]



Robert Bage: A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Text


Appendix A: Bage's Life

                1. William Godwin, from a letter to Mary Wollstonecraft, 15 June, 1797

                2. William Hutton, "Memoirs of Mr. Bage," The Monthly Magazine (Jan. 1802)

Appendix B: Bage's Fiction

                1. Monthly Review on Bage's early fiction

                2. Selected responses to Hermsprong

                                a. William Taylor

                                b. Mary Wollstonecraft    

                                c. The British Critic

                                d. The Critical Review

                                e. Anna Laetitia Barbauld

                                f. Sir Walter Scott

                3. Robert Bage on novel writing

                                a. Preface to Mount Henneth

                                b. Preface to Man as he Is

Appendix C: America and Eighteenth-Century Literature

                1. Europeans observing Americans

                                a. Pierre de Charlevoix

                                b. Benjamin Franklin

                                c. John Shebbeare

                                d. William Smith

                2. "Americans" observing Europeans

                                a. Baron de Lahontan

                                b. Joseph Addison

                                c. Voltaire

                3. Eighteenth-Century Michillimackinac

                                a. Pierre de Charlevoix

                                b. John Long

                                c. Alexander Henry

                                d. Jonathan Carver

Select Bibliography

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2002 • 387pp • Paperback • 9781551112794 / 1551112795

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Broadview Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and also acknowledges the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Freehand Books, an imprint of Broadview, acknowledges the support of the Canadian Council of the Arts.