Published anonymously in 1778, here is a story of virtue rewarded, much in the style of Richardson's Pamela. Pursued and offended by cads and used by boorish relatives, Evelina finds redemption close at hand in the person of Lord Orville, who leads the heroine from chaste maidenhood to virtuous marriage. Rogers authored a biography of Fanny Burney and is the editor of The Meridian Anthology of Early Women Writers.
About the Author
Frances Burney (1752 – 1840), conosciuta come Fanny Burney, è nata a King’s Lynn, Inghilterra, nel 1752. Terza di sei figli, fu educata in casa e iniziò a scrivere a dieci anni. Si sposò a quarantadue anni con un esiliato francese, da cui ebbe un figlio. Dopo una lunga carriera da scrittrice, visse in Francia per oltre dieci anni, poi si stabilì a Bath, dove morì nel 1840. In tutto scrisse quattro romanzi, otto pezzi teatrali, una biografia e venti volumi di diari e lettere. Oltre alla considerazione dei critici per i suoi lavori, viene considerata un precursore letterario di autori importanti che l’hanno seguita, come Jane Austen e William Makepeace Thackeray. Ha pubblicato il suo primo romanzo Evelina in forma anonima nel 1778. Una volta rivelata la sua identità, il romanzo le ha portato una fama immediata, grazie al suo stile unico e alla sua vis comica. Seguirono Cecilia nel 1782 (il titolo Orgoglio e pregiudizio della Austen è tratto dalle pagine finali di questo romanzo), Camilla nel 1796, e The Wanderer nel 1814. I romanzi della Burney esplorano le vite degli aristocratici inglesi, facendosi beffe delle loro pretese sociali e piccole manie, con un occhio a questioni più ampie come l’identità femminile. Oggi i critici rivalutano la sua opera con un interesse rinnovato soprattutto per il suo punto di vista sulla vita sociale e sulle lotte delle donne in un mondo di uomini.
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By Frances Burney
Kessinger PublishingCopyright © 2004 Frances Burney
All right reserved.
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
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 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 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.
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Table of ContentsAbout the Series
About This Volume
List of Illustrations
PART ONE: EVELINA: THE COMPLETE TEXT
Introduction: Cultural and Historical Background
Chronology of Burney's Life and Times
A Note on the Text
Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World [First Edition, January 1778]
PART TWO: EVELINA: CULTURAL CONTEXTS
1. The Young Lady
For the Young Lady
James Fordyce, "On the Importance of the Female Sex"
Thomas Gisborne, "On the Mode of Introducing Young Women into General Society"
Thomas Gisborne, "On the Employment of Time"
By the Young Lady
Frances Burney, An Unwanted Proposal of Marriage
Frances Burney, Directions for Coughing and Sneezing before the King and Queen
2. The Fashionable World
Richard Campbell, From The London Tradesman
Joseph Addison, On the Royal Exchange (The Spectator, No. 69)
Joseph Addison, The Influence of French Fashions (TheSpectator, No. 45)
Oliver Goldsmith, On London Shops (From The Citizen of the World)
Henry Fielding, People of Fashion (From The Covent-Garden Journal)
Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, On the London Theatre, (From The Spectator, Nos. 240, 245, and 502)
Anonymous, From A Sketch of the Spring-Gardens, Vaux-hall
Oliver Goldsmith, On a Visit to Vauxhall Gardens (From The Citizen of the World)
Tobias Smollett, On a Visit to Bath (From Humphry Clinker)
Christopher Anstey, From The New Bath Guide
3. Beyond the Fashionable World
Visitors to London
César de Saussure, From A Foreign View of England in the Reigns of George I and George II
W. de Archenholtz, From A Picture of England
Carl Phillip Moritz, From Travels, Chiefly on Foot, Through Several Parts of England, in 1782
Thomas Campbell, From Dr. Campbell's Diary of a Visit to England in 1775
James Anthony Gardner, Voyages of a Seaman
Edward Boscawen, Waging War against France
Thomas Pasley, A Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope
Olaudah Equiano, Serving with the English Navy