Evelina - Frances Burney

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Evelina - Frances Burney

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Jun. 5, 2009, 3:05am

I just finished reading Evelina by Fanny Burney and I would love to discuss this novel with other people!

***Spoilers ahead***

For example, I was wondering why exactly Evelina tries to avoid Lord Orville after realising that she loves him (upon receiving the letter from Mr Villars pointing that out) - is it because her birth is still obscure that she thinks she can't stand a chance with him? I'm a bit puzzled, because his behaviour, especially during the preceding week at Clifton, is such as to leave not so much doubt about his preference for her... Or does she simply not get that because she is a bit naive and does not have much experience (though she gained quite a bit throughout the novel)?

I would love to hear what someone else thinks about this!

Jun. 18, 2009, 5:23pm

Hi Celia!

I read Evelina quite a few years ago- I think while I was just starting my obsession with the Regency period. I really don't remember it well at all, unfortunately, so I can't be of much help. I also don't have the book with me (it's at my parents' house), so I am not sure if I will be able to answer any time soon, either! Have you maybe tried some of the critical scholarship on the book?

Jun. 18, 2009, 10:49pm

I felt Evelina very far removed from our modern mindset. She made my favorites, Austen, Brontë, and Dickens look very modern. I took Evelina's reserve was the natural result of the setting and tone of the rest of the work. It has been fairly recent that society accepts a woman to take a active role in her romantic relationships. Jane Eyre was called 'coarse' because She spoke openly about romantic feelings and that was a century after Evelina. Burney and her peers by writing at all and publishing rebelled against society. Each step forward can only go so far. Burney and others created a frame for later writers.

Evelina's choice of avoidence felt like the natural one to make in this particular novel. So even as it was a little difficult to read because we're used to the more open style, I enjoyed it because I saw this work as one of the first steps toward the novels that I need in my life.

I read Evelina five years ago maybe. I might have a different opinion now. I borrowed Evelina, so I can't refresh my memory of the text.