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Lifting the Veil

Lifting the Veil
Disruption and Order in Frances Burney’s Evelina
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As has been largely proved by now, Evelina is more than a simple tea-table novel mocking the manners of the time: it evinces a deep reflection on the mores and values governing eighteenth-century society and on the difficulties entailed in any attempt at defining women’s role and place in that society. This book aims at showing how Frances Burney uses devices reminiscent of the satirical prints and the comedies of manners of her time to raise the question of the link between manners and the social classes, and more importantly, to lift the veil hiding the savagery inherent in that so-called civilized society. Disruptive forces bring chaos in the apparently smooth narrative but whether they really question traditional hierarchies, or whether they are ultimately meant to reassert them, remains to be determined. In the end, the strongest subversion of all is achieved in more secret ways, questioning men’s power over women through a development of reading and writing skills.



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14.5 x 20 cm


Table des matières: 

I/ Satire and manners: reasserting the social order?
1. Evelina as a satirical guide
2. Unveiling the failings of the characters: caricature and types
3. Frances Burney and the theatre
4. Comic disruptions: the comedy of manners.
5. Class, manners and politeness
6. How to deal with the rules of polite society: Evelina and the Bildungsroman

II/ Farcical disruptions: savagery and civilisation
1. The influence of farce
2. The limits and dangers of violent horseplay
3. A world upside down: laughter, chaos and the social order
4. Laughter, savagery and crowd behaviour
5. Open and veiled violence aimed at women

III/ Finding a place for women in society
1. Women’s identity: name, marriage and the patriarchal order
2. Action and femininity: conduct books and the enforcement of passivity
3. Emotions as a source of action

IV/ Language: writing and reading
1. Silencing women
2. The disruption of the link between sign and meaning
3. Teaching the reader how to read correctly
4. Skilful feminine narration: undermining men’s power

Autour de l'auteur

Autour de l'ouvrage: 

Laure Blanchemain-Faucon, agrégée in English and former student of the ENS Fontenay-Saint Cloud, is a Lecturer at the University of Limoges. She has written L’Imagination féminine dans les romans de Frances Burney (PUM, 2010) and various articles concerning the novels of Frances Burney, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Mary Wollstonecraft.


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