Evelina (Oxford World's Classics)
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'Lord Orville did me the honour to hand me to the coach, talking all the way of the honour I had done him! O these fashionable people!'
Frances Burney's first and most enduringly popular novel is a vivid, satirical, and seductive account of the pleasures and dangers of fashionable life in late eighteenth-century London. As she describes her heroine's entry into society, womanhood and, inevitably, love, Burney exposes the vulnerability of female innocence in an image-conscious and often cruel world where social snobbery and sexual aggression are played out in the public arenas of pleasure-gardens, theatre visits, and balls. But Evelina's innocence also makes her a shrewd commentator on the excesses and absurdities of manners and social ambitions - as well as attracting the attention of the eminently eligible Lord Orville.
Evelina, comic and shrewd, is at once a guide to fashionable London, a satirical attack on the new consumerism, an investigation of women's position in the late eighteenth century, and a love story. The new introduction and full notes to this edition help make this richness all the more readily available to a modern reader.
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embarrassed how to introduce the subject which must lead to it. He saw my distress, and, with a kind of benevolent pleasantry, asked me if I would let him guess any more? I assented in silence. “Shall I, then, go back to where I left off?” “If—if you please,—I believe so,—” said I, stammering. “Well then, my love, I think I was speaking of the regret it was natural you should feel upon quitting those from whom you had received civility and kindness, with so little certainty of ever seeing them
know, Ma’am, we have done nothing but quarrel all the morning?—You can’t think how I’ve scolded;—have not I, my Lord?” and she smiled expressively at Lord Merton. “You have been, as you always are,” said he, twisting his whip with his fingers, “all sweetness.” “O fie, my Lord,” cried she, “I know you don’t think so; I know you think me very ill-natured;—don’t you, my Lord?” “No, upon my honour;—how can your Ladyship ask such a question? Pray how goes time? my watch stands.” “It is almost
sufferings, once more I address myself to Sir John Belmont, in behalf of the child, who, if it survives its mother, will hereafter be the bearer of this letter. Yet in what terms,—oh most cruel of men!—can the lost Caroline address you, and not address you in vain? Oh deaf to the voice of compassion—deaf to the sting of truth,—deaf to every tie of honour—say, in what terms may the lost Caroline address you, and not address you in vain? Shall I call you by the loved, the respected title of
stately foppishness, (and he actually took snuff37 between every three words) when I looked round at Lord Orville, I saw such extreme surprise in his face,—the cause of which appeared so absurd, that I could not for my life preserve my gravity. I had not laughed before from the time I had left Miss Mirvan, and I had much better have cried then; Lord Orville actually stared at me; the beau, I know not his name, looked quite enraged. “Refrain—Madam,” (said he, with an important air,) “a few
to death (see 2 Kings: 9). Return to text. 96. or the house: Mr. Lovel is a member of the House of Commons. Return to text. 97. Mr. Tattle . . . Mr. Ben . . . Miss Prue: Characters in Love for Love. Tattle is a gossip; Ben is a sailor; Prue is an awkward but sexually provocative country girl. Return to text. 98. “mais . . . parler”: “But apparently it is just a manner of speaking.” Return to text. 99. Angelica . . . Valentine: The lead roles in Love for Love. Return to text. 100. the ton: