The Commercial Traveller, the Imagination and the Material World

  • Caroline Franklin
Part of the Literary Lives book series (LL)


Though she temporized her political despair by taking the long view in her history of the French revolution, Wollstonecraft’s ideals had been blasted by the Terror. She had got through by channelling all the force of her Utopianism into her relationship with Gilbert Imlay: envisioning it as an Edenic partnership of equals. Long before the French Revolution, she had idealized friendship as an earthly aspect of divine love in her Platonic early novel, Mary: A Fiction. The moral universe was the only dimension that mattered to her, so Wollstonecraft recognized no artificial divisions between public and private spheres. When her ideals became politicised during the revolution, she still saw fraternité as love for one’s fellow man in active daily life as well as social policy. As she lost her orthodox religious faith, she practised fraternité less in terms of the familial duties and personal charity which had driven her in the 1780s to make such strenuous efforts to assist her siblings and the Bloods, and to take in an orphan child. However, socialization and conversation remained for her, as for Godwin back in London, an essential component of the good life as well as of one’s literary vocation. Moral questions needed to be tested out in discussion and against the pulses of daily experience before they were disseminated to the wider world through print.


Material World French Revolution Woman Writer Commercial Traveller Creative Imagination 
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Copyright information

© Caroline Franklin 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline Franklin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WalesSwanseaUK

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