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Evelina: Or the History of A Young Lady's Entrance into the World (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 18 Apr 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New edition edition (18 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192840312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192840318
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.5 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 127,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Longtime admirers of Burney’s delightful 18th-century comedy of manners, Evelina, will no doubt rejoice in Broadview’s impressive new edition." -- Terry Castle, Stanford University --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

The Broadview Editions series is an effort to represent the ever-changing canon of literature in English by bringing together texts long regarded as classics with valuable, lesser-known literature. Newly type-set and produced on high-quality paper in trade paperback format, the Broadview Editions series is a delight to handle as well as to read.

Each volume includes a full introduction, chronology, bibliography, and explanatory notes along with a variety of documents from the period, giving readers a rich sense of the world from which the work emerged. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By jhildrop@hotmail.com on 22 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
Rather shorter and easier to read that Burney's later novels, this a delightful story about a naive and sheltered girl entering into 'polite' society in the last quarter of the 18th century. As a beauty, Evelina is subjected to unrelenting sexual harrasment that she is barely equipped to cope with and a range of social humiliations that would make a much less sensitive person cringe. As is usual in Burney's novels, Evelina is surrounded by a range of grotesque and entertaining characters (my favourites being the appalling, but enjoyably assertive 'French' grandmother and the acid-tongued Mrs Selwyn) and no punches are pulled in satirising the arrogance, hypocracy and deceit underlying fashionable society. In particular the ugly and offensive sexism to which all the women in the book are treated - young and old, rich and poor, plain and beautiful - is quite horrifying to modern eyes and it says a lot for Evelina that she manages to hang onto her self-respect and dignity in the face of it. Finally, the book gives a vivid impression of the range of new entertainments that were becoming available to amuse the 18th century leisured classes - including such novelties as "sight-seeing" and "shopping".
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 17 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
Fanny Burney is often unfavourably compared to Jane Austen which I think is very unfair. In Evelina, some of the similarities are more prominent than in her other books (in terms of plot and milieu, at least) but I don't think it's helpful to approach this expecting another Pride & Prejudice.

Evelina has a tangled family history full of eloped marriages and abandonments: brought up by her clergy-man godfather, she has lived a sheltered life in the country until a family friend invites her to stay and Evelina makes her unexpected debut in London. There she send all the young men into a spin, and encounters her French grandmother who has plans of her own.

This is written in epistolary mode, with the majority of the letters being Evelina's own account of her doings. Burney is far bawdier that Austen and reminds me a little of Fielding, with Evelina as a more moral Tom Jones let loose on the big world with all her innocence. Her French grandmother, in particular, is a wonderful character with her bad English and her dodgy manners; as is the father of Evelina's best friend, who is one of the rudest men in literature.

We know there's going to be a happy ending from the start and there are no twists in the romance plot. But for something far breezier and bracing than Austen (who I love) this is highly recommended.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A. van Gelderen on 17 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
Anyone who loves Jane Austen (and don't we all?) will certainly enjoy Fanny Burney's Evelina. Burney is really a precursor of Austen, but has unfortunately been completely overshadowed by the later novelist. In its time (1778) Evelina was a tremendous hit and shy Fanny Burney a celebrated author overnight. She was invited into the iterary circle of Samuel Johnson, became a reluctant lady-in-waiting to Queen Charlotte because of her celebrity and at age 41 married a refugee from the French Revolution, thus becoming Madame D'Arblay (check out her interesting diaries). The subtitle of Evelina (The History of A Young Lady's Entrance into the World) says it all: Evelina is an innocent and naive young girl, who suddenly finds herself in unfamiliar London society, surrounded by suitable and not so suitable suitors and a host of other characters. Lots of misunderstandings and perilous situations block Evelina's road, but don't be surprised to find humour and suspense as well, for the continuing question is of course whether Evelina will survive Society unscathed. Even though the pace of a novel more than 2 centuries old may be a bit slow for some, this is something you get used to soon enough: the novel contains far too much life, fun and social commentary to be dull.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Murray Girl on 11 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
I picked this up at a second hand bookshop for next to nothing as something to read along my commute. Having expected to find it an inferior version of an Austen, I was pleasantly surprised by Burney's debut novel and will certainly be moving on to Camilla. Although Evelina can be a frustrating heroine at times (for a large part of the novel she comes across as a bit wet, but perhaps that's my fault for comparing her to the likes of Elisabeth Bennett - which is a somewhat unfair comparison) and generate some eye-rolling, she does provide a fascinating insight into Regency manners and courtship. As the previous reviewer points out, this is a lot bawdier and more realistic than Austen. As an Austen fan this can take some getting used to, as can the epistolary style, but once the reader gets used to the style and into the story it just gets better and better.

A new favourite on my bookshelf...I only hope the BBC sees its merits and puts together a good old fashioned Sunday evening drama series soon!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Peter B on 30 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What an utterly remarkable book! It is was published in 1778 and is a milestone in the development of the novel. I didn't think the device of using Evelina's letters to tell the story really works. The letters in reply to Evelina were so short and so largely irrelevant to the development of the story that the correspondence sometimes seemed contrived and artificial, and on occasion I couldn't imagine how Evelina found the time to write her letters. However, if the novel form barely exists then I guess Frances Burney had to reveal Evelina's thoughts in a way that would seem plausible and familiar to the readers of the time.

I enjoyed the book most for its description of genteel society in the 1770s, and how startlingly different this was from what Jane Austen portrayed half a century later. Most of the characters who appear are so selfish and self absorbed, so rude and unpleasant, and so utterly predatory that it suggets that the polite conversation and manners portayed by Jane Austen was no more than a set of stock phrases and gestures that had been learned for occasional use. It always seemed to me that Jane Austen's characters could perfectly well express themselves within those conventions, but in Evelina only the cardboard superhero Lord Orville is able to do that, and only later in the novel do we come across Mrs Selwyn to represent the self-confident and erudite women so beloved by Jane. Beyond that we find Evelina and most of the young women she meets to have few choices about what they are permitted to do or say, mere toys of the men they meet and the imperious older women of their circle.
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