Sunday, May 23, 2021

Fortnightly Book, May 23

After the success of Evelina, Frances Burney set out to write a play, called "The Witlings", with a main character named Cecilia, which was supposed to be a satire; however, her father, Dr. Charles Burney, and her mentor, Samuel Crisp, forbade her to continue with it on the ground that it might offend real people, some of whom were quite important in terms of patronage. Discouraged, she set out to write her second novel, Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress, about a young woman born into a great legacy which is frittered away by the greediness of the men in her life. It's perhaps not completely unsurprising that people have wondered if her disappointment over the play shaped some of the new tale. In any case, it was published in 1782 and is the next fortnightly book.

This is a doorstopper of a book, over 900 pages long in the Oxford World's Classics edition that I will be reading, so this may end up being a three-week 'fortnight'. My summer courses start a week after next, so I have a lot to do, but at the same time, it's usually a period in which I have here and there long stretches of time that aren't chopped up by other things the way they usually are, so we'll see how it goes. In any case, I greatly enjoyed Evelina, so I am interested in seeing how this darker and more satirical novel turns out.

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