In this ambitious book Pamela L. Cheek analyzes representations of female virtue by women writing in French, Dutch, German, and English and reading, translating, and imitating one another, including Françoise de Graffigny, Germaine de Staël, Isabelle de Zuylen de Charrière, Elisabeth Bekker-Wolff, Agatha Deken, Sophie von La Roche, Frances Burney, Charlotte Lennox, and others. Their narratives feature three typical situations challenging a heroine’s virtue:

Conditions of adversity test whether she can remain virtuous when, for example, she is starving or unprotected. Conditions of a lack of practical wisdom test whether her virtue . . . places herself or others at risk. . . . Conditions of differential perception offer the most narratively dramatic test and the one that lays the groundwork for group affinity. In this test, authorities (a father, a husband, a guardian, a judge or society at large) present as...

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