The latest Classics Club spin has landed on number 19.
That number on my spin list is allocated to one of the oldest books on my original Classics Club list: Evelina by Frances Burney. Strictly speaking the book is called Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World.
It was first published as a three volume novel in 1778 but Burney’s authorship became known.
Told in epistolary style, it traces the experiences of an unacknowledged but legitimate daughter of a dissipated English aristocrat who lives a secluded life in the countryside until she is seventeen. She gets her guardian’s consent to visit London for a holiday, an adventure which opens her eyes to the perils and pitfalls of 18th-century society. The novel is a satire on Georgian society.
I included it on my Classics Club because it’s been described as a significant precursor to the work of Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth and deals with some of the same issues. It’s the first – and the best known – of Burney’s published novels.
I’ve found an interesting article by Chloe Wigston Smith on the British Library website which casts light on Burney herself and the origin of the novel. Interesting to discover that she was very anxious to keep her identity a secret because she was worried about the public reaction. She didn’t even tell her father until six months after the novel was issued and she’d received positive reviews.
I was rather hoping to have landed a more recent novel from my spin list since my last venture into eighteenth century literature (via The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith) wasn’t a great success. I hope this one proves more enjoyable.