The Virgin Unmask'd: or, Female Dialogues Betwixt an Elderly Maiden Lady and her Niece on several Diverting Discourses on love, marriage, memoirs, and morals, &c. of the Times...
London: Printed, and sold by G. Strahan...and J. Stragg, 1724. Second edition of Mandeville's first prose work in English, which was originally published in 1709, and his first foray into social commentary. The third edition of 1731 was a reissue of the second, with a cancel title-page. A fourth was published in 1742 A little light foxing. A very good copy. Contemporary paneled calf, rebacked to style, with gilt red morocco label, edges sprinkled red. Octavo. , 200 pp. (Item ID: 16177)
Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733) was born at Dordrecht, Holland. After attending the University of Leiden and earning a medical degree, he came to England to learn the language, but ended up staying. He is best known for The Fable of the Bees, which was first published as a 433-line poem under the title, The Grumbling Hive, or Knaves Turnd Honest in 1705, but was expanded into a 228-page prose work in 1714. It gave immediate offense and has always been characterized as false, cynical and degrading, though it was very popular for years and later critics have pointed out the acuteness of the writers perceptions, as well as the vigor of his style. It influenced Berkely, who replied to it in the second dialogue of Alciphron, as well as Samuel Johnson, Adam Smith, and the Utilitarians
The Virgin Unmask'd is a dialogue between an elderly spinster, Glen whom Colburn suggests was modeled after Mary Astle and her niece, in which the niece is counseled against marriage as oppressive and abusive toward women. The Oxford DNB notes that the work begins in almost pornographic fashion, which "quickly disappeared as the discussion turned to the undesirability of marriage and the harmful effects of child bearing on women, two proto-novels, and a discussion of the dangers posed by Louis XIV to Europe's peace and security."