L'Intriguante; or, the Woman of the World. By Anthony Frederick Holstein, Author of Isadora of Milan, Miseries of an Heiress, Bouverie, or the Pupil of the World, &c. In Four Volumes. Vol. I [-IV]. London, Henry Colburn, 1813.
First Edition. Four volumes, 12mo (174 x 95 mm), pp. [iii]-ix, [i], 216; [ii], 202; [iv], 200; [iv], 208, tears or uncut edges to several pages, with lost strip along edge of margin but not touching text (Vol II, pp. 19 & 23 and Vol. IV, pp. 23, 167 & 183), with loss but not touching text, with half-titles to Vols. III and IV only, in contemporary half calf over marbled boards, spines lettered and numbered in gilt, with the contemporary heraldic bookplate of William Kemmis in each volume.
‘The fertile brain and active fingers of Mr. Anthony Frederick Holstein are never idle. One production follows so quick upon another, that he is a host in himself; and we know not how the circulating libraries could go on, if it were not for his indefatigable industry and heroic perseverance. L’Intriguante; or, the Woman of the World, cannot fail to please those readers who delight to revel in horrors; and in this novel they make pick and choose among the dismals, so happily and so plentifully are they scattered over the whole’ (Critical Review, 1813, Vol. 4, p. 556).
The novel opens with a gallows scene where a young, handsome and sincere Arnold Rutledge speaks touchingly of his repentance before being executed for the murder of his patron. A strange start to a novel, where the sympathy of the reader is entirely excited on behalf of a convicted felon, who is dead within seven pages. This is followed by a mysterious assassination, a fatal mugging, the killing of babies using opium and other random acts of cruelty and murder, culminating in the burning to death of one of the principal female characters. Add to this a gloomy dingle, near a priory and haunted by the terrifying figure of a nun, a young wife running mad for the love of another man and a series of concerts and society balls interspersed with violence and murder, and we have all the ingredients for a splendid gothic novel.
‘What Miss - or what Maudlin, listless wife’, asked the reviewer in The Critical Review, ‘does not glow with admiration when she meets with such language as the following:- His ardent gaze, rose-blighted (much virtue in rose blighted) adored lover, convulsive start, voice soft, musical, emphatic, pangs of jealousy iceing the streamts of love, glowing beneath the gaze of his ardent eyes... What lady of modern sensibility can read the above, without heaving a thousand soft sighs of sympathy? And with this sort of diction Mr. Holstein’s work abounds. This is the inebriating language, these are the senseless rhapsodies that turn our girls’ heads, and make them imagine themselves lovely unfortunates, and interesting angels. It is this flowing, flowering accumulation of prettinesses that makes the Miss of fifteen toss up her nose in the wind, at the plain sense and wholesome admonition of her parents and guardians’ (Critical Review, 1813, Vol. 4, p. 557).
Garside, Raven and Schöwerling 1813:33; Block p. 112; Summers p. 366.
OCLC lists Bodleian, Bristol and Yale.