Evelina: Or, the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World

Evelina: Or, the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World

by Fanny Burney

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Overview

Without name, without recommendation, and unknown alike to success and disgrace, to whom can I so properly apply for patronage, as to those who publicly profess themselves Inspectors of all literary performances?
The extensive plan of your critical observations,-which, not confined to works of utility or ingenuity, is equally open to those of frivolous amusement,-and, yet worse than frivolous, dullness,-encourages me to seek for your protection, since,-perhaps for my sins!-it intitles me to your annotations. To resent, therefore, this offering, however insignificant, would ill become the universality of your undertaking; though not to despise it may, alas! be out of your power.
The language of adulation, and the incense of flattery, though the natural inheritance, and constant resource, from time immemorial, of the Dedicator, to me offer nothing but the wistful regret that I dare not invoke their aid. Sinister views would be imputed to all I could say; since, thus situated, to extol your judgment, would seem the effect of art, and to celebrate your impartiality, be attributing to suspecting it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781976243639
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 10/09/2017
Pages: 466
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Kowaleski Wallace is an associate professor of English at Boston College and author of Consuming Subjects: Women, Shopping, and Business in the Eighteenth Century.

Read an Excerpt

Volume I

Oh author of my being!-far more dear
To me than light, than nourishment, or rest,
Hygieia’s blessings, Rapture’s burning tear,
Or the life blood that mantles in my breast!

If in my heart the love of Virtue glows,
’T was planted there by an unerring rule;
From thy example the pure flame arose,
Thy life, my precept-thy good works, my school.

Could my weak pow’rs thy num’rous virtues trace,
By filial love each fear should be repress’d;
The blush of Incapacity I’d chace,
And stand, recorder of thy worth, confess’d:

But since my niggard stars that gift refuse,
Concealment is the only boon I claim;
Obscure be still the unsuccessful Muse,
Who cannot raise, but would not sink, thy fame.

Oh! of my life at once the source and joy!
If e’er thy eyes these feeble lines survey,
Let not their folly their intent destroy;
Accept the tribute-but forget the lay.



To the Authors of the Monthly and Critical Reviews
Gentlemen,
The liberty which I take in addressing to You the trifling production of a few idle hours, will, doubtless, move your wonder, and, probably, your contempt. I will not, however, with the futility of apologies, intrude upon your time, but briefly acknowledge the motives of my temerity: lest, by a premature exercise of that patience which I hope will befriend me, I should lessen its benevolence, and be accessary to my own condemnation.

Without name, without recommendation, and unknown alike to success and disgrace, to whom can I so properly apply for patronage, as to those whopublicly profess themselves Inspectors of all literary performances?

The extensive plan of your critical observations,-which, not confined to works of utility or ingenuity, is equally open to those of frivolous amusement,-and yet worse than frivolous dullness,-encourages me to seek for your protection, since,-perhaps for my sins!-it entitles me to your annotations. To resent, therefore, this offering, however insignificant, would ill become the universality of your undertaking, though not to despise it may, alas! be out of your power.

The language of adulation, and the incense of flattery, though the natural inheritance, and constant resource, from time immemorial, of the Dedicator, to me offer nothing but the wistful regret that I dare not invoke their aid. Sinister views would be imputed to all I could say; since, thus situated, to extol your judgement, would seem the effect of art, and to celebrate your impartiality, be attributed to suspecting it.

As Magistrates of the press, and Censors for the public,-to which you are bound by the sacred ties of integrity to exert the most spirited impartiality, and to which your suffrages should carry the marks of pure, dauntless, irrefragable truth-to appeal for your MERCY, were to solicit your dishonour; and therefore,-though ’tis sweeter than frankincense,-more grateful to the senses than all the odorous perfumes of Arabia,-and though It droppeth like the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath, I court it not! to your justice alone I am entitled, and by that I must abide. Your engagements are not to the supplicating author, but to the candid public, which will not fail to crave
The penalty and forfeit of your bond.

No hackneyed writer, inured to abuse, and callous to criticism, here braves your severity;-neither does a half-starv’d garretteer, Oblig’d by hunger-and request of friends,-implore your lenity: your examination will be alike unbiassed by partiality and prejudice:-no refractory murmuring will follow your censure, no private interest be gratified by your praise.

Let not the anxious solicitude with which I recommend myself to your notice, expose me to your derision. Remember, Gentlemen, you were all young writers once, and the most experienced veteran of your corps, may, by recollecting his first publication, renovate his first terrors, and learn to allow for mine. For, though Courage is one of the noblest virtues of this nether sphere, and, though scarcely more requisite in the field of battle, to guard the fighting hero from disgrace, than in the private commerce of the world, to ward off that littleness of soul which leads, by steps imperceptible, to all the base train of the inferior passions, and by which the too timid mind is betrayed into a servility derogatory to the dignity of human nature; yet is it a virtue of no necessity in a situation such as mine; a situation which removes, even from cowardice itself, the sting of
ignominy;-for surely that courage may easily be dispensed with, which would rather excite disgust than admiration! Indeed, it is the peculiar privilege of an author, to rob terror of contempt, and pusillanimity of reproach.

Here let me rest,-and snatch myself, while I yet am able, from the fascination of Egotism,-a monster who has more votaries than ever did homage to the most popular deity of antiquity; and whose singular quality is, that while he excites a blind and involuntary adoration in almost every individual, his influence is universally disallowed, his power universally contemned, and his worship, even by his followers, never mentioned but with abhorrence.

In addressing you jointly, I mean but to mark the generous sentiments by which liberal criticism, to the utter annihilation of envy, jealousy, and all selfish views, ought to be distinguished.

Copyright 2001 by Frances Burney Introduction by Elizabeth Kowaleski Wallace

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Evelina 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a wonderful novel. I had an equal share of drama, romance and, of course, humor. The characters are wondefully done. Mrs. Sewlyn, Madame Duval, the Branghtons and Captain Mirvan are done superbly. Even though it is done in letters, don't let that discourage you. It's not like any other letters. They have lots of detail so the reader is able to get a good picture of it in their head. However, it doesn't have too much description to make awfully dull and lifeless. Evelina is between Jane Austen and the Bronte's novels. They have that elegant sence like Austen novels but also have Bronte drama (but not too much drama.)People who like 'clean' novels are in for this. Even though it might be a little racy in the beginning between the English and French nothing else is wrong with it. No cursing, sexual scenes or anything like that. The only thing I did not like about it was probably that everyone LOVED her. Someone is always trying to get her to love the guy. Sir Clement Willouby, Lord Orville, Lord Merton and Monsieur de Bois are some of them. Other than that, it was a great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This tale begins on a winter day when the Rev. Villars (Evelina's guardian) receives the unwelcome news that Evelina's grandmother, Madame Duval, wishes to gain custody of her long lost granddaughter. For the last sixteen years since her birth in Rev. Villar's home Evelina has been cloistered in the township of Berry Hill - a land of innocence and happiness like the biblical Eden. In the spring Evelina travels with friends to London where her angelic beauty attracts much attention. Soon after her arrival she is invited to a private ball. While preparing for the ball as she frizzles her hair and puts on a party gown Evelina grows increasingly self-conscious because she is unused to mixing in the circle of high life. The adventures of that evening are hilarious and also painful to read. But Evelina laughs it off the next morning with her best friend. This novel explores the dark side of life but never loses its light-hearted, comical tone. London is not what Evelina had expected and a few months later she writes: 'I shall be very glad to quit this town.' Soon after, on her last day in the city Evelina receives a shocking letter that plunges her into the depths of depression. She laments to find herself in 'a world so deceitful, where we must suspect what we see, distrust what we hear, and doubt even what we feel!' Evelina travels back to her native Berry Hill broken-hearted and inconsolable. The Rev. Villars saddened by the change he observes in his ward states 'I see but too plainly, that though Evelina is returned, -- I have lost my child!' And he attempts to end her distress by prophesying '¿doubt not but that time will stand your friend, and all will end well.' The Rev. Villar's prophecy comes true and before two months have passed Evelina's spirits are restored. Evelina triumphs over every obstacle that she encounters during her adventures. This is partly because of luck but mostly because of her virtue, strength of character, and purity of heart. In the closing line of her last letter to her beloved guardian she writes the magical words 'All is over¿the chaise now waits¿' This novel is both a fairy tale and a black comedy. It was written in the eighteenth century and offers a fascinating view of that time period. Part of the charm of this story is that it is written as a series of letters - all ending with closings like 'Your most obedient and most humble servant.' Fanny Burney has populated this story with many fascinating characters ranging from the motherly Rev. Villars, the virago Madame Duval, the sadistic Captain Mirvan, the two-faced Sir Clement Willoughby, the sardonic Mrs. Selwyn, and the noble hero Lord Orville. Evelina can be classified as a romance novel but it will appeal to both women and men, the young and old, the jaded and the innocent.
sweetiegherkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was so excited when I found this book in my local library as I had known Fanny Burney's writing had been an influence on Jane Austen's own writing. I was not disappointed, even though the book started out a bit slow for my liking and the means of introducing Evelina's background was a bit contrived. By focusing the story on a young, sheltered girl entering the world at large for the first time, Burney cracks open that world and captures all the manners and customs of that time and place. Whether intended or not, I find it ironic that while the story is written mostly in Evelina's hand, her character more often than not is at a loss for words. Although Jane Austen later improved upon much of Burney's style and technique, I am still mightily impressed with Burney's talent, especially at a young age and particularly because that talent was not encouraged by her family. I am disappointed that her earliest work, Caroline Evelyn, was burned at her own hand. I would have looked forward to reading it, but as it is I am contented to one day (hopefully soon) read her other works.
Wubsy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this as part of my degree in English Lit, and have to say that for me it was (gasp!) less entertaining than Jane Austen. I think that the form and style is so removed from my twenty first century position I found it difficult to get any grasp as to why the characters were as they were, and what motivated them. This is more a fault of mine than it is of the author, but still, Austen proves that this kind of 'manner's novel' can be done better, if only a little.
thorold on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great fun, if a little clumsy in parts. Burney obviously had technical problems with the different voices needed for the epistolary form, so the book ends up as essentially a first-person narrative by Evelina with occasional letters from other characters interspersed here and there. But this doesn't matter: although she is sometimes an irritatingly dense character, Evelina is always a very lively narrator. The comic characters are great as well, even though they are all a bit stagey. The plot races along and the resolution has a very theatrical quality about it: you can just imagine an audience groaning with pleasurable vexation as they discover who are the long-lost siblings, and which babies were switched at birth...If you look at this as a stepping-stone from Richardson, Smollett and Fielding to the fiction of the 19th century, there's a lot to engage with. Something I found very interesting was the representation of class. We normally think of Georgian society as grandees at the top, peasants and the urban poor at the bottom, and everyone else more-or-less at the same level in the middle, but in this novel the plot relies heavily on the contrast between the social standards of Villars and the Mirvans on the one hand and Mme Duval and the Branghtons on the other. The former are minor gentry, and model their behaviour and values on those of the aristocracy; the latter are in trade, and are much more free and easy in their manners (for instance, the Branghton girls can go around unchaperoned with young men, whilst Evelina and Molly Mirvan would never think of doing so). The interesting thing is that Burney is describing a period when these two groups exist closely together, multiply linked to each other by marriage, and characters like Evelina and Captain Mirvan find themselves moving (albeit sometimes uncomfortably) back and forth between the two. By the time we get to Dickens and Thackeray, this gap has become a lot bigger.If you come to this novel expecting something like mature Jane Austen, as many people seem to, you'll be disappointed. The humour is clumsier, relying on slapstick rather than irony; there is too much going on; we don't have time to identify with the characters' real problems. On the other hand, if you read it on its own terms as a first novel by a clever young woman in her twenties - late 18th century chick-lit, if you will - you can get a lot of pleasure from it.
HugoBlumenthal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Let me put it this way: After doing a second year of a Masters in Literature, and having read Robinson Crusoe, Pamela, Clarissa, Tom Jones, Tristram Shandy, etc., I decided to write my dissertation on this novel, which I found the most entertaining of the whole lot, and, though apparently `light¿ if compared to the heavy-weight ones I just mentioned, with great potential to allow one to explore problems as complex as the question of appearances, representation and mimesis in the Eighteenth-Century novel.
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It is a classic and I love this book.
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I enjoyed reading the book but there were too many places with garbled characters. It needs to be edited to make it more readable.
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Gemma_Tudor More than 1 year ago
This book is by far my most favorite book that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I've read thousands of books, and this trumps them all. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It has romance, courage, comedy, and adventure; everything that an avid reader looks for.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One cannot help but simpathize with Evelina when she tries so hard but always seems to get into awkward (and sometimes humorous) situations. I think it is a very good book and I recomend it to anyone who enjoys classical literature. As soon as I picked it up I could not put it down!
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SarahJay More than 1 year ago
I was obligated to read this book for my 18th century British Literature class. Needless to say, I was not expecting to be enthralled in the least, however I could not have been more wrong. Once I picked it up I quite literally could not put it down. "Evelina" reads just as quickly and easily as any modern-day romance novel, and while reading it I could not help but be reminded of a certain Jane Austen novel. After reading "Evelina" it seems quite apparent where Austen got her inspiration for the dashing Mr. Darcy. I recommend this book to any Austen fan, but also to anyone who is interested in romance novels with a little bit more culture and intellectual stimulation.

(Sidenote: "Evelina" is an epistolary novel, and normally I'm not into that kind of story-telling, but this book seems to be the exception to most rules).