Group read: Camilla by Frances Burney

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Group read: Camilla by Frances Burney

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Editado: Abr 1, 2018, 8:13pm

Camilla; or, A Picture Of Youth by Frances Burney (1796)

"...our Camilla, that sweet, open, generous, inconsiderate girl, whose feelings are all virtues, but whose impulses have no restraints: I have not a fear for her, when she can act with deliberation; but fear is almost all I have left, when I consider her as led by the start of the moment..."

Editado: Maio 1, 2018, 6:04pm

Welcome to the group read of Frances Burney's third novel, Camilla!

While only Burney's second book, Cecilia; or, Memoirs Of An Heiress, has been reissued by Virago, it was agreed at the outset that she was such an important author, both in respect to her role in the development of "women's fiction" and for her admitted influence on Jane Austen, that it would be a rewarding project to undertake her other three novels.

Consequently, we tackled Burney's ground-breaking first novel, Evelina, before taking on Cecilia:

Evelina group read
Cecilia group read

Plans to move on to Camilla unfortunately had to be set aside at that time, however we now have the chance to resume our examination of these vital 18th century works.

A lapse of fourteen years occurred between the publication of Burney's second and third novels, caused by a combination of external and internal factors. All her life, Burney struggled against the sense that there was something "immodest" about her impulse to write (notoriously, as a very young woman she burnt the manuscript of her first attempt at a novel); and after the huge success of both Evelina and Cecilia, she had to deal with the discomfort of being a public figure; a "celebrity". Furthermore, her desire to write drama was stymied by the prevailing opinion that the stage itself was improper, and that no "good" woman should be associated with it.

Meanwhile, Burney's relationship with her domineering father continued to dictate most of her activities, including what she would and would not allow herself to write.

In 1786, Burney was appointed Keeper of the Robes to Queen Charlotte, a position she held for five years. It was supposed to be a reward, but the stifling, isolating existence at the royal court and the demands made upon her there brought on bouts of ill-health and depression in Burney, who eventually resigned. Despite her unhappy experiences, Burney retained a reciprocal affection for the Queen, and was also granted a royal pension of £100 per year.

During her time at court, Burney had kept herself sane by outlining a third novel; not doing any solid writing, but scribbling down ideas for an examination of "the impulses of youth", and the different reactions of the young and the experienced to the same events.

However, nothing came of these ideas until after Burney's most unexpected and rather daring marriage, in 1793, to General Alexandre d'Arblay. Burney was 41 at the time, an almost unheard-of age for a first marriage; while d'Arblay was not only French, but a Roman Catholic. Moreover, d'Arblay was an exiled Royalist, and was extremely poor. When her only child, a son called Alex, was born in 1794, Burney returned to novel-writing with a clear idea of providing for her family.

When Camilla; or, A Picture Of Youth was published in 1796, it was a huge popular success, but the critics were ambivalent. While there was a sense of grudging praise in the reviews, the novel was attacked for its extreme length and for some of its language. However, it was generally agreed that Burney had again produced an acute portrait of her own society.

Like Cecilia, and still disconcertingly to some, Camilla is full of "mixed" characters, whose good points are contrasted and undermined by serious flaws. As her subtitle indicates, Burney was particularly interested in the contrast between the "ingenuousness" of youth and the cynicism of age and experience; in natural differences in temperament and intelligence; and the effects of good and bad upbringings. Though her titular heroine eventually emerges as the book's focus, Camilla offers a entire group of young people whose interactions allow for the wide-ranging differences in their characters to show themselves.

The other intriguing aspect of Camilla - particularly in light of Burney's own apparently happy marriage - is its doubtful attitude to romantic love. After the "fairy-tale" romance between Evelina and Lord Orville in Evelina, Burney offered an uncomfortably realistic, compromised central relationship in Cecilia. She takes this still further in Camilla, with her young heroine put through the wringer of unrealistic male expectations and demands.

Editado: Abr 1, 2018, 6:38pm

As indicated, Camilla is a very long novel. Therefore to make this work, I think we should try to maintain a reading schedule of a minimum number of chapters per day.

Camilla was originally published as a five-volume novel; and most modern editions (though only one volume) retain the book's original schema of:

5 volumes
10 books
118 chapters

Consequently, I think we should aim to read a minimum of four chapters per day, 28 chapters per week. I will post regular "goals" to help everyone keep on schedule.

Does that suit people?

Please indicate if your copy of Camilla does *not* keep the volume / book / chapter structure of the original, but numbers its chapters consecutively.

Editado: Abr 1, 2018, 6:46pm

To help this group read work for everyone, please keep the following in mind:

1. When posting a comment, please identify the chapter you are referring to at the beginning of your post, in bold.

2. Be mindful of other readers---leave gaps in your post for minor spoilery points, or use the spoiler tags for major issues.

3. To avoid spoilers yourself, do not read the introduction or the endnotes if your copy has one or both. Instead---

4. Please post any comments or questions here, no matter how minor. This will be informative for others and help to promote discussion.

Editado: Abr 28, 2018, 6:36pm

I definitely think we're going to need this---

Cast of characters for Camilla:

The Reverend Mr Tyrold
Georgiana - his wife

Their children:
- Lionel
- Lavinia
- Camilla
- Eugenia

Edgar Mandlebert - Mr Tyrold's ward

Mr Relvil - Mrs Tyrold's brother

Sir Hugh Tyrold
Indiana Lynmere - his niece
Clermont Lynmere - his nephew

Miss Margland - Indiana's governess
Dr Orkborne - Eugenia's tutor
Dr Marchmont - a minister, and Edgar's former tutor

Mrs Arlbery

Her friends:
- Sir Sedley Clarendel - a wealthy but foppish baronet
- General Kinsale
- Colonel Andover

Alphonso Bellamy - a fortune-hunter
Major Cerwood - a fortune-hunter
Ensign Macdersey - a hot-tempered Irish soldier, related to Lord O'Lerney
Mr Dubster - a nouveau riche "gentleman"

Mr Melmond - a romantic young gentleman
Mrs Berlinton - his beautiful sister, separated from her elderly husband

Mrs Needham - a neighbour of Edgar and the Tyrolds

Mr Dennel - Mrs Arlbery's widowed brother-in-law
Miss Dennel - his daughter

Visitors to Tunbridge Wells:
- Lord Valhurst - an elderly, dissolute nobleman
- Lady Alithea Selmore - a society beauty
- Lady Isabella Irmy - a sensible woman
- Lord O'Lerney - a sensible man
- Lord Newford
- Sir Theophilus Jarard
- Mr Ormsby

Mr Westwyn - an old friend of Sir Hugh
Harry Westwyn - his son, a fellow-student of Clermont Lynmere

Mrs Mittin - an officious busy-body
Mr Clykes - a money-lender

The Higdins - poor people assisted by Edgar and Camilla

Jacob - the groom / servant of Sir Hugh
Mary - Sir Hugh's servant
Molly Mill - another young servant
Bob - Sir Hugh's postillion

Cleves Park - the estate owned by Sir Hugh
Beech Park - the estate owned by Edgar
Etherington - the home of the Tyrolds

Editado: Abr 1, 2018, 6:48pm

If you will be joining in the group read, or just lurking, please let us know!

Abr 1, 2018, 11:02pm

I'll join in but I doubt I'll keep up the pace. Need to find a copy

Abr 2, 2018, 1:41am

I'm in and started reading. Made it to the ball in Book II--what a riot! I can just see it as a movie scene...

Abr 2, 2018, 3:57am

I'll be joining in. It seems quite a fast pace but I remember getting carried away with both Evelina and Cecilia so it may be easier than it looks!

Abr 2, 2018, 5:21am

I'm in and will start reading today.

My edition has the five volume, ten book structure with 118 chapters. Chapter numbers revert to Chapter I at the beginning of each book. If the chapter numbering in other editions is continuous (i.e. ch1 through to ch 118) I can convert my numbers when posting?

Abr 2, 2018, 6:27am

That was a suggested pace, to attempt to keep the read within the month of April; however, if participants feel it is too demanding, we can revisit the question.

>7 luvamystery65:

Welcome, Roberta! If you are looking for an electronic copy, it is at Project Gutenberg, while it is also available chapter by chapter at the University of Pennsylvania's 'Celebration of Women Writers' section - here.

>8 kac522:

You've exploded out of the blocks, Kathy! :)

>9 CDVicarage:

Welcome, Kerry! Yes, my memory was that people found Burney easier to read than anticipated.

>10 souloftherose:

Hi, Heather! My understanding is that most editions keep the volume / book / chapter structure, but I thought there might also be an outlier or two with consecutive numbering.

Abr 2, 2018, 4:02pm

As she did in Cecilia, Burney begins Camilla with a flurry of action and a flurry of characters; this time, however, both stay immediate and relevant as the story is set amongst the extended Tyrold family.

This is in stark contrast to Evelina and Cecilia, both of which deal, effectively, with fiction's all-time favourite construct, The Orphan.

Possibly because of her doubts about returning to novel-writing as a wife and mother, Burney makes Camilla more overtly didactic than her earlier works; and the novel's various concerns emerge quite quickly. Of course we find the usual women's fiction worries over female character and conduct, and the demands made upon young women by society; the recurring issue of this time, the fragility of the female reputation; and of course the overarching problem of what constitutes "a good marriage". Added to these we find questions about the upbringing and education of children, boys and girls alike, in effect "nature versus nurture".

One unusual aspect of this novel is its interest in the shaping of children by adults---who may be fitted for the task, or may not; and who may mean well, or may not. Obedience of the young to authority figures was very much taken for granted in the 18th century (and after), and in the vast majority of fiction it was disobedience that was sure to bring about disaster. Here, however, Burney concerns herself with the question of what happens if those given the job of raising children aren't really any good at it. Conversely, she shows too that sometimes there is only so much adults can do against natural inclinations.

Abr 2, 2018, 5:00pm

What may seem one of the odder aspects of this novel is the way that Mr and Mrs Tyrold, those exemplary parents, keep handing their children over to the well-meaning but rather thick-headed Sir Hugh.

This may partly be explained by the expansive idea of "family" that prevailed during the 18th century, wherein a network of relatives rather than the nuclear family was the norm, but also be the social realities of the time. Large families, uncertain life expectancy and a harsh financial climate meant that children often ended up being raised by those willing and able to do it, which was not necessarily their parents. Nor was it uncommon for parents to give up a child to a childless relative, if this was perceived as offering a long-term advantage (of course the child's opinion wasn't asked). Very often - as we see here - this might be done in the hope or expectation of an inheritance.

But beyond these points, we also see here one of the consequences of the system of primogeniture. Though Mr Tyrold is self-evidently the superior individual, Sir Hugh is the older brother and the head of the family, and therefore Mr Tyrold feels compelled to give in to his wishes, even to the possible detriment of his children.

We may possibly read Burney's opinion of this social system in the circumstances of the crisis which sets the plot in motion...

Abr 2, 2018, 8:51pm

I have this book but it looks too intimidating at the moment so I'll just be lurking here. However, I also have Evelina and it looks much more manageable so I may give that a try at some point instead.

Abr 2, 2018, 8:56pm

>14 europhile: I know how you feel about the intimidating look, but once I got into it, the pages flew by (mostly) for me, if that helps at all.

Abr 2, 2018, 11:46pm

>14 europhile:

Hi, Grant - welcome either way. :)

Please make use of the Evelina thread if you decide to go ahead with that instead.

Editado: Abr 2, 2018, 11:56pm

Volume I / Book I / Chapters II and III

One of the main themes of Camilla is the lack of control that women have over their own lives: this subtext is made explicit later on in the book, in a letter from Mr Tyrold to Camilla; but we see its workings in even minor plot-points, everything from Mrs Tyrold biting her tongue when her husband gives Camilla over to Sir Hugh, to Camilla, Lavinia and Eugenia at various times being literally dragged into their brother's idiot pranks.

Most striking at the outset, however, is the disposition of Sir Hugh's estate. At the outset he intends Indiana to be his heiress, dividing his fortune with her brother; then, as he grows fond of Camilla, he changes his mind and plans to leave the bulk of his estate to her; and then, with the disasters that befall Eugenia, scrapping both plans to bequeath her everything.

Just like that, four young people have, potentially, the entire direction of their lives altered and re-altered, basically for a whim.

Editado: Abr 3, 2018, 12:12am

Volume I / Book I / Chapters II and III

Eugenia's subplot, the detail that she alone of her family (due to her ill-health) has not been vaccinated against smallpox highlights how widespread a practice vaccination was, despite the inherent dangers of contemporary procedures.

Smallpox inoculation was introduced to England in the early years of the 18th century by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (a famous "blue-stocking" best known these days for her travel-letters), who had seen it practised in Turkey. Lady Mary had lost a brother to the disease and herself carried the scars of it. The "Oriental" practice remained highly controversial until Lady Mary - having first had her own son treated - persuaded the Princess of Wales to have her daughters inoculated. By the middle of the century it had become a fairly common practice amongst the English middle- and upper-classes, who usually had their servants inoculated too.

Initially the procedure involved actually inducing a mild form of the disease, so it was not without danger; but at the time smallpox was killing approximately 10% of the English population each year; while those who survived could be appallingly scarred for life, like Eugenia. Coincidentally, Edward Jenner's safer method of vaccination, using cowpox, was introduced in 1796, the same year that Camilla was published.

Abr 3, 2018, 7:52am

Thanks as always for all your detailed posts Liz!

I reached the end of Book I, Chapter VII yesterday. I have to agree with Mrs Tyrold's description of Sir Hugh at the end of Chapter II: 'a person whom she considered as more childish than her children themselves'.

The discussions about education in Chapters IV to VII reminded me a little of Maria Edgeworth (although as ME wrote later than FB I guess it's more likely to be the other way around).

Editado: Abr 3, 2018, 6:17pm

Concern over the proper form of education for the young emerged over the second half of the 18th century, when there was likewise a shift from the hard, self-interested values of the Age of Reason to a more moral / emotional outlook. There began to be more interest in the shaping of character, and moral as well as mental education; as well as increasing debate over the education of girls in and of itself, many of whom at this time were still left functionally illiterate, and who were still widely considered as needing only "accomplishments".

Generally it was felt that change was needed and there was endless argument about the best way of educating children under these new ideas.

What Maria Edgeworth did was come up with one of the first practical plans for converting these ideas into theory. Her Practical Education was widely adopted and implemented, and continued to be used as a teaching primer well into the 19th century. Among other things, Edgeworth's plan was unusual for its emphasis upon engaging the imagination; she was a proponent of teaching through stories, or "moral tales"---giving practical examples of principles in action.

As you say, Burney was earlier---illustrating some of the issues through her characters, with the extremes of the beautiful Indiana who is nothing but beautiful, to Eugenia with her "boy's education", which teaches her to think clearly and logically, but is insufficient in giving her knowledge of the world and people.

She also shows the absurdity of the long-prevailing idea that beating some Latin and Greek into someone made them "educated".

Editado: Abr 4, 2018, 6:01pm

Volume I / Book II / Chapter VII

This chapter raises a point that we need to keep in mind as we progress: how *young* our main characters are!

This is a reflection of how society operated at the time. Boys who were university-educated were done by the time they were twenty; if they were of the upper classes they might then be sent to travel, perhaps take the Grand Tour (as Clermont Lynmere does, and Edgar keeps thinking about), but the state of female education meant there that only marriage was on the horizon, and there wasn't much to wait for. Thus girls were often married off very young.

Indeed, later we find this conversation (not really a spoiler):

Volume II / Book III / Chapter IV

    "Divinities! Lord! are they divinities?" said a girlish female voice; "pray how old are they?"
    "I fancy about seventeen."
    "Seventeen! gracious! I thought they'd been quite young; I wonder they a'n't married!"
    "I presume, then, you intend to be more expeditious?" said another, whose voice spoke him to be General Kinsale.
    "Gracious! I hope so, for I hate an old bride. I'll never marry at all, if I stay till I am eighteen."

So we are to accept the romantic difficulties of Eugenia and Camilla, and Indiana's impatience to marry, at face-value, though the former is only fifteen, and the other two seventeen.

However, it is hard to keep Camilla's youth and inexperience out of your thoughts, when you consider the increasing demands made upon her in terms of her conduct, and fore-thought, and the resistance of temptation---apparently at seventeen she's supposed to be perfect!

Abr 3, 2018, 9:04pm

As a general remark---

I know we discussed this re: Cecilia, but I think it's even more true of Camilla: my goodness, Burney can make a reader squirm...

Abr 4, 2018, 2:57pm

>21 lyzard: I thought I was on track with my 4 chapters a day and then saw Volume II Book III in your post and panicked! And then read it properly and breathed again...

>22 lyzard: I struggled (as I often do with books from this period) with the description of the prisoner's family in Volume I / Book II / Chapter IV and Chapter VI. So deserving and so clean!

Editado: Abr 4, 2018, 6:12pm

It was during the second half of the 18th century that the idea of the "deserving poor" really took hold. It was a compromise between changing ideas about charity and compassion, and existing dictates of practical ruthlessness. If people wanted help, they had to prove that they deserved it; that their troubles weren't the result of laziness, or dishonesty, or drink. Starving or otherwise suffering wasn't enough---they had to show they were struggling against their misfortunes, or were somehow better than their circumstances.

Thus in scenes like this there is always a discouragement of indiscriminate giving, and an encouragement to "make inquiries" before offering assistance.

Of course this scene is there to delineate the girls: Indiana, under Miss Margland's tutorage, doesn't care; Eugenia immediately wants to help, regardless; and Camilla learns about "making inquiries" from Edgar.

Abr 4, 2018, 8:33pm

How are the rest of you getting along?

Abr 7, 2018, 12:36pm

I've made it to Book IV. What's up with Lionel? He's so annoying.

Abr 9, 2018, 11:37am

I've been away and so will be starting to read soon!

Abr 10, 2018, 7:09am

I made good use of the LT site being down (gosh, was that scary) to catch up with Camilla. But didn't manage to do any further reading last night so am behind again.

Currently at Volume II, Book III, Chapter XI and agree with >26 kac522:, Lionel is very annoying.

I'm assuming from what I've read about the plot of this novel that Volume I, Book II, Chapter XV is the key to the rest of the novel, particularly this speech by Dr Marchmont:

'you must study her, from this moment, with new eyes, new ears, and new thoughts. Whatever she does, you must ask yourself this question: "Should I like such behaviour in my wife?" Whatever she says, you must make yourself the same demand. Nothing must escape you; you must view as if you had never seen her before; the interrogatory, Were she mine? must be present at every look, every word, every motion; you must forget her wholly as Camilla Tyrold, you must think of her only as Camilla Mandlebert; even justice is insufficient during this period of probation, and instead of inquiring, "Is this right in her?" you must simply ask, "Would it be pleasing to me?"'

It's quite a difficult passage to read from a modern point of view.

It's been a while since we read Evelina and Cecilia so I might not be remembering accurately but I feel that this third novel of Burney's is more didactic (and I've just read back over the old messages on this thread and realised Liz said the same thing in >12 lyzard:) and less supportive of the heroine than her first two books.

I found Jacob's story of Dr Orkborne's visit to Mrs Albery in Volume II, Book III, Chapter V to be very amusing.

Abr 10, 2018, 6:29pm

Hello, all! I hope you all survived The Great LT Blackout Of 2018!?

>26 kac522:

Well done, Kathy!

Trust me, Lionel has not even begun to be annoying...

>27 Sakerfalcon:

No worries, Claire: please check in and let us know how you're going.

>28 souloftherose:

Excellent use of the time-out, Heather! :D

Abr 10, 2018, 6:57pm

>28 souloftherose:

Remember, folks: whenever you have romantic difficulties, always consult the neighbourhood misogynist!

Great comments, Heather, and you have cut very much to the heart of the novel.

I remember when I first read Camilla - and was not much older than she is - I spent the entire read in a state of raging fury over the outrageous double-standard and the incredible egotism of the male characters, who demand perfection in women (by which we mean, a seventeen-year-old girl!) without ever stopping to consider why they, as individuals, deserve perfection. They're men: of course they do.

However---I don't think at all that we're supposed to take this at face-value; on the contrary, I think we are supposed to see that Edgar is being led down a dangerous (and grossly unfair) road by Dr Marchmont.

Though neither Camilla nor Edgar is the orphan beloved of literature at this time - and though both, in the terms of their society, are adults - I believe Burney means us to see them as the "youth" of her subtitle, and to see also the way that each of them is led astray through inexperience and bad advice.

Burney removes both of them from immediate family influence---Edgar has just come of age and is out on his own, away from the guidance of Mr Tyrold; while because of Mrs Tryold's absence (thank you, Lionel!), Camilla is left to her own shaky judgement and untrustworthy impulses.

Each of them then falls under the sway of a seemingly well-meaning older person, who they listen to because of their greater knowledge of the world, but who pass on damaging lessons.

Thus Edgar has his mind tainted by Dr Marchmont who, out of his own romantic disappointments, adopts an "all women" mindset and infects Edgar with his own negativity and suspicion; while Camilla falls under the influence of the cynical and worldly Mrs Arlbery, who teaches her to play dangerous emotional games. The combination is disastrous.

At the same time--- With reference to Cecilia, we discussed Burney's "mixed" characters and how uncomfortable they made readers at the time (and afterwards). It's fascinating to see how she does this too with Dr Marchmont and Mrs Arlbery, both of whom have excellent qualities---but whose own flaws make them the most inappropriate guides for impressionable young people.

Abr 12, 2018, 5:50pm

Sorry, people!

Had electrical outages yesterday that have not been repaired (leading to a dead computer battery, eek!), and am currently waiting for an electrician. I'll check back in when things are under control.

In the meantime, please let me know your progress (or not)! :)

Abr 13, 2018, 2:19am

>31 lyzard: I'm behind - just reached the end of Book III. Hoping to catch up over the weekend.

Abr 18, 2018, 3:00am

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Abr 18, 2018, 8:26pm

{...*mea maxima culpa*...}

Abr 18, 2018, 8:48pm

The more I think about Camilla, the more unusual a book it seems to me to be.

It is, as we noted at the outset, more overtly didactic than Burney's earlier works, more directly critical of its heroine; or rather, it is more intent upon showing how short-term mistakes can have long-term consequences.

Camilla is rather like Evelina, in that she is both young and impulsive; unthinking. But whereas Evelina's mistakes frequently led to embarrassment, and occasionally led her into danger, in that case she was invariably pulled out of a given situation before she was damaged either socially or in actuality.

Here, Burney seems intent upon letting Camilla's mistakes play out---and multiply.

I suppose this might reflect Burney's own changing circumstances: she was many years older when writing Camilla, and in a completely different life-situation; perhaps she found herself able to be more ruthless than was her younger self, or perhaps this is her better knowledge of the world speaking.

What I can't quite decide is how much blame we are intended to place upon Camilla herself, and how much upon those providing her with inadequate guidance.

Again, the removal of Mrs Tyrold from the scene is absolutely crucial; while Burney cleverly constructs a range of reasons why Camilla cannot turn to her father. Thus Camilla is repeatedly left either to make her own decisions, or to listen to advice from her elders which is deeply flawed.

Most fascinating of all is the role that Edgar plays in all this. No-one sees as clearly as he how very much in need of help Camilla is---but again and again his own self-absorption, his concern for himself, prevents him from taking helpful action, or speaking up at the critical juncture.

While there is no question that Camilla is frequently at fault, it is Edgar's behaviour that drives me crazy---all the more so because I can't make up my mind how Burney intends us to feel about him.

My reading at the moment is that, even as Camilla is a more real-world, grounded version of Evelina, Edgar is the non-fairy-tale equivalent of Lord Orville: a young man whose believes himself the perfect mentor, but whose own flaws, his egotism and thin skin, repeatedly keep him from performing the task he has set himself.


Abr 18, 2018, 11:35pm

Infuriating as he is - and of course, intended to be so - I find Lionel to be perhaps the most remarkable character in the novel.

Scary to think he's based on a real person! Was Burney expressing her own resentments with her half-brother, when depicting Lionel's negative impact upon his sisters?

The characterisation is striking in several ways. I can't think of another novel of this period where a young man of a good family is depicted in just this way, to take so easily to lying and cheating (even if he tries to pass some of that off as "pranking"), then progressing to bigger sins like an affair with a married woman. Of course there are plenty of wastrel young men in novels, but the casualness of Lionel's sinning is something unusual.

It is notable, too, how much of the plot turns, one way or another, on Lionel's behaviour. In the very first instance it is because of his (can we call it anything else?) extortion-plot that Mrs Tyrold is called away from home, to the detriment of her daughters. His silly lies about which girl is Sir Hugh's heir causes grief and embarrassment. And his money demands help to create Camilla's debt woes---as well as compromising her with Sir Sedley.

Again, though, I find a lot of this ambiguous on Burney's part. I'm not convinced of this---but I would love to believe that she was tacitly criticising the social order that privileged boys so much over girls, even to the extent (certainly in the 19th century) that boys were encouraged to make servants out of their sisters, so that both sexes learned the "proper" order of things, and girls learned "proper" submission.

It's exasperating to watch the girls let Lionel make fools of them again and again, and give in to his demands again and again; but that was, after all, what girls were taught to do.

Editado: Abr 18, 2018, 11:42pm


Volume III / Book V / Chapter VIII:

    "Why then, my dear little girl," cried he, "the chief substance of the matter is neither more nor less than this: I want a little money."
    "My dear brother," said Camilla, pleasure again kindling in her eyes as she opened her pocket-book, "you could never have applied to me so opportunely. I have just got twenty pounds, and I do not want twenty shillings. Take it, I beseech you, any part, or all."


"My dear girl, I am heartily concerned at the whole business, only, as it's over, I don't like talking of it. This is the last scrape I shall ever be in while I live. But if you won't help me, I am undone. You know your influence with my uncle. Do, there's a dear girl, use it for your brother! I have not a dependance in the world, now, but upon you!"


    "Before I give it you," said she, seriously, and walking from the servants, "I must entreat to speak a few words to you."
    "You have really got it, then?" cried he, in a rapture; "you are a charming girl! the most charming girl I know in the world! I won't take your poor twenty pounds: I would not touch it for the world. But come, where's the draft? Is it for the two or the three?"
    "For the two; and surely, my dear Lionel---"
    "For the two? O, plague take it!---only for the two?---And when will you get me the odd third?"


Mrs Arlbery now approaching, he hastily took the draft, and, after a little hesitation, the twenty pounds...

Abr 20, 2018, 6:05am

In >28 souloftherose:, Heather highlighted that very important and disturbing passage in which Edgar is urged, not just to watch, but to judge Camilla's every move.

That passage's twin comes in Volume III / Book VI / Chaper XII, wherein Mrs Arlbery offers this devastating character sketch of Edgar---devastating because true (and emphasis mine):

"I know what you must say; yet, once more, I cannot refrain venturing at the liberty of lending you my experience. Turn your mind from him with all the expedition in your power, or its peace may be touched for the better half of your life. You do not see, he does not, perhaps, himself know, how exactly he is calculated to make you wretched. He is a watcher; and a watcher, restless and perturbed himself, infests all he pursues with uneasiness. He is without trust, and therefore without either courage or consistency. To-day he may be persuaded you will make all his happiness; to-morrow, he may fear you will give him nothing but misery. Yet it is not that he is jealous of any other; 'tis of the object of his choice he is jealous, lest she should not prove good enough to merit it. Such a man, after long wavering, and losing probable happiness in the terror of possible disappointment, will either die an old batchelor, with endless repinings at his own lingering fastidiousness, or else marry just at the eve of confinement for life, from a fit of the gout. He then makes, on a sudden, the first prudent choice in his way; a choice no longer difficult, but from the embarrassment of its ease; for she must have no beauty, lest she should be sought by others, no wit, lest others should be sought by herself; and no fortune, lest she should bring with it a taste of independence, that might curb his own will, when the strength and spirit are gone with which he might have curbed her's."

Of course, while Edgar takes Dr Marchmont's against Camilla admonitions to heart, Camilla refuses to listen to Mrs Arlbery...or so it seems. I wonder if the reason she does accept her (very bad) advice to try and make Edgar jealous is because, consciously or unconsciously, she recognises how much truth there is in that portrait?

Editado: Abr 20, 2018, 2:25pm

I think I'm now caught up to roughly where I'm supposed to be (currently reading Volume IV Book VII Chapter XII)!

>35 lyzard: 'the removal of Mrs Tyrold from the scene is absolutely crucial' Definitely yes, in terms of the plot setup. However I can't help feeling a little sad at how absent Mrs Tyrold has been from the book because I think she might be one of my favourite characters.

'Most fascinating of all is the role that Edgar plays in all this. No-one sees as clearly as he how very much in need of help Camilla is---but again and again his own self-absorption, his concern for himself, prevents him from taking helpful action, or speaking up at the critical juncture.'

Yes indeed, grrrr.

'While there is no question that Camilla is frequently at fault, it is Edgar's behaviour that drives me crazy---all the more so because I can't make up my mind how Burney intends us to feel about him.'

I'm undecided on this too. At just over the half way point I'm astounded at the number of times Edgar has managed to leap to the wrong conclusion and then storm off in a huff without giving anyone any chance of explanation. But I don't know if a contemporary reader or author would see it the same way.

>36 lyzard: Wait, what? Lionel's based on a real person?!

Before I knew that I had assumed he was incredibly infuriating but sort of light relief. Some of his scenes are quite funny even when I'm feeling Camilla's sense of despair (Volume IV, Book VII, Ch II: '... when Lionel capering into the little apartment, danced round it in mad ecstasy, chanting 'Lady Clarendel, Lady Clarendel, my dear Lady Clarendel!'....')

>36 lyzard: 'It's exasperating to watch the girls let Lionel make fools of them again and again, and give in to his demands again and again; but that was, after all, what girls were taught to do.'

Sigh, yes.

Abr 20, 2018, 2:25pm

Backtracking a little to Volume III, Book V, Chapter V and Mr Tyrold's letter to Camilla which I thought might be worth some discussion. I was expecting something quite moralistic (with a slightly sinking heart) but there was actually more acknowledgement of the particular restraints and expectations placed upon young women by society than I was expecting (and am I wrong in reading an implied criticism of those restraints and expectations from Burney?)

'The temporal destiny of woman is enwrapt in still more impenetrable obscurity than that of man. She begins her career by being involved in all the worldly accidents of a parent; she continues it by being associated in all that may environ a husband: and the difficulties arising from this doubly appendant state, are augmented by the next to impossibility, that the first dependance should pave the way for the ultimate. What parent yet has been gifted with the foresight to say, 'I will educate my daughter for the station to which she shall belong?' Let us even suppose that station to be fixed by himself, rarely as the chances of life authorise such a presumption; his daughter all duty, and the partner of his own selection solicitous of the alliance: is he at all more secure he has provided even for her external welfare? What, in this sublunary existence, is the state from which she shall neither rise nor fall? Who shall say that in a few years, a few months, perhaps less, the situation in which the prosperity of his own views has placed her, may not change for one more humble than he has fitted her for enduring, or more exalted than he has accomplished her for sustaining? The conscience, indeed, of the father is not responsible for events, but the infelicity of the daughter is not less a subject of pity.

Again, if none of these outward and obvious vicissitudes occur, the proper education of a female, either for use or for happiness, is still to seek, still a problem beyond human solution; since its refinement, or its negligence, can only prove to her a good or an evil, according to the humour of the husband into whose hands she may fall. If fashioned to shine in the great world, he may deem the metropolis all turbulence; if endowed with every resource for retirement, he may think the country distasteful. And though her talents, her acquirements, may in either of these cases be set aside, with an only silent regret of wasted youth and application; the turn of mind which they have induced, the appreciation which they have taught of time, of pleasure, or of utility, will have nurtured inclinations and opinions not so ductile to new sentiments and employments, and either submission becomes a hardship, or resistance generates dissention.

If such are the parental embarrassments, against which neither wisdom nor experience can guard, who should view the filial without sympathy and tenderness?'

And then:

'We will not here canvass the equity of that freedom by which women as well as men should be allowed to dispose of their own affections. There cannot, in nature, in theory, nor even in common sense, be a doubt of their equal right: but disquisitions on this point will remain rather curious than important, till the speculatist can superinduce to the abstract truth of the position some proof of its practicability.'

There are no solutions or alternatives presented for women by Burney but I feel like even this implied criticism in a popular novel might be notable, especially as Burney used one of her male characters to write it.

Editado: Abr 20, 2018, 9:04pm

>38 lyzard: I guess I'm not too far behind, as this passage in Book VI is just about where I've left off. What I find curious is that up to this point, Mrs Arlbery has only thrown out bits & pieces of advice; what prompted this? She seems to be ambivalent, or at least unconcerned, about most things; so why this long lecture to Camilla? Is it for our benefit--so we get a true picture of who she really is?

>39 souloftherose: Do you see my head nodding re: the absence of Mrs Tyrold and the impotence of Edgar? I'm just finding everybody being at cross-purposes so frustrating. And I don't always "get" Camilla, either. She's not capturing me as a heroine.

>39 souloftherose: Wait, what? Lionel's based on a real person?! Yes, Liz, do tell....

I could also use some more names up in >5 lyzard:....all these various Majors and Sirs and Misters running around have my head spinning. I can't keep all these Tunbridge players straight without a scorecard.

>40 souloftherose: Right, I felt like we might be getting somewhere with Mr. Tyrold's letter, and I'm always relieved when Camilla pulls it out to read. But it doesn't seem to be having much effect.

I think I need a summary of Dr Marchmont's advice vs. Mr Tyrold's advice vs. Mrs Arlbery's advice....sheesh, can't these adults get it straight or bugger off?? And hang it all, if only these two young people would just TALK to each other for more than 30 seconds, and then everything would be fine. Of course, we wouldn't have a book, would we...

Abr 21, 2018, 8:50pm

>39 souloftherose:, >41 kac522:

Consensus is that Lionel is based upon Burney's half-brother, Charles; although I gather they mean in terms of his general behaviour, rather than the extortion, fraud and lying. (Burney may have felt that those were the natural endpoints of young men being over-indulged...)

Editado: Abr 21, 2018, 9:14pm

>39 souloftherose:

I think you've raised a lot of very important points, Heather.

I agree about Mrs Tyrold. It seems that Burney was yet again experimenting with a "mixed" character, though she is very different from Mrs Delville. Mrs Tyrold's opinionated forthrightness and judgemental tendencies are extremely unusual in a female character who we are intended to have a positive view of (for the most part).

It is interesting to note too how she handles the Tyrolds together: Mrs Tyrold is clearly the stronger character, yet she makes a point of submitting to her husband...NOT, however, because that is the proper female thing to do, but because of her thorough respect for him. It is very strongly implied that if the respect did not exist, the submission wouldn't either. (Note Mrs Tyrold's frustrated contempt towards Sir Hugh.)

This strikes me as equivalent to the points you make about Mr Tyrold's letter, which is indeed very unusual for the time: no lecture about female frailty, as we might expect (and, we recall, Mr Villars directed at Evelina), but instead an open admission that the world is an unjust place and that young women have to be aware of that and accordingly move with caution.

I think the thing we need to keep in mind overall is the long gap of years between Burney's novels: she was a lot older when writing Camilla, much more experienced, and familiar with her society. She seems to have grown into a more---not cynical view, but a darker one that understood that good intentions would get you nowhere; that (in our common phrase) bad things could and would happen to good people, and that it might take only a slight misstep to invite those things.

But as you note, the most striking thing about these passages is the underlying resentment expressed over the injustices associated with women's place in society, with references to marriage, submission, education, reputation, and above all the way that women's lives (for good or ill) are dictated by the men into whose hands they fall by birth or marriage.

That Burney would put all that front and centre - and into the mouth of a minister! - is remarkable.

Editado: Abr 21, 2018, 9:33pm

>41 kac522:

Mrs Arlbery (unlike Edgar) doesn't set out to be anyone's mentor; she progressively takes the role on partly because she likes Camilla, but mostly because she dislikes Edgar. The advice she gives is twisted both by that, and also by her far more worldly view of matters in general. (Although that said, we might be inclined to agree with her that Camilla would be better off with Sir Sedley!)

What I find fascinating is the way Edgar's attitude towards Mrs Arlbery shifts: he starts out in his usual condemnatory, judgemental state of mind, worried about her "reputation"...but while his dislike of her never changes, his motive does, I think: he ends up resenting her because she's so unimpressed with him.

Mrs Arlbery, as I note above (>38 lyzard:) is dead on the mark with her summing-up of Edgar; however, the additional advice that she offers Camilla is both wrong and foolish---encouraging flirting and making Edgar jealous, when we know that this is exactly calculated to blow up in Camilla's face. (I don't think we have grounds for believing that Mrs Arlbery intends such an outcome, but it's an interesting thought.)

By this time, of course, Edgar has fallen into the clutches of the misogynistic Dr Marchmont who, because of his own romantic failures, has the worst possible opinion of "women", ad infinitum, and encourages Edgar to put the worst possible construction on everything Camilla says and does: something that Edgar's own egotism and judgemental tendency makes easy for him.

These two pieces of "advice" are of course destined for a horrible collision.

As with the points that Heather highlights, this is another remarkable criticism of the society that Burney is depicting: it is pretty clear that the two young people would probably have been perfectly if the adults had just left them alone, and not passed on their own cynicism in the guise of "guidance".

We have to appreciate that, at this time, submission to authority was a big aspect of how society functioned: children to their parents, wives to their husbands, sisters to brothers, younger siblings to eldest brother, young people to adults---and really, Burney tears strips of ALL of this; arguing, in effect, that people don't know better just because they're older (and/or male). In context, this is almost revolutionary.

Abr 21, 2018, 9:37pm

>41 kac522:

if only these two young people would just TALK to each other for more than 30 seconds

Yes! - and really, the blame is on Edgar here. He has control over his own movements; Camilla for the most part does not. She can only wait for him to choose to talk to her or not, to call upon her or not. It doesn't matter how badly she wants to see him, it's up to him whether they meet or not---and again and again, he "punishes" her for some perceived transgression (thank you, Dr Marchmont!) by withdrawing from her and leaving her to her own devices...with the result that she slips deeper into trouble.

Abr 21, 2018, 9:38pm

>41 kac522:

You're quite right, I keep thinking I need to update the character list, and then keep forgetting! I'll take care of that right now.

Abr 21, 2018, 10:13pm

So many details that make you understand why Burney was such an influence on Jane Austen!

Flicking through again, I was struck by this: you couldn't hope for a better description of Mr and Mrs Bennet:

Volume II / Book III / Chapter XII

    The young Ensign here could no longer be silent: "I am sure and certain," cried he, warmly, "Miss Lynmere is incapable to be a fool! and when she marries, if her husband thinks her so, it's only a sign he's a blockhead himself."
    "He'll be exactly of your opinion for the first month or two," answered Mrs. Arlbery, "or even if he is not, he'll like her just as well. A man looks enchanted while his beautiful young bride talks nonsense; it comes so prettily from her ruby lips, and she blushes and dimples with such lovely attraction while she utters it; he casts his eyes around him with conscious elation to see her admirers, and his enviers; but he has amply his turn for looking like a fool himself, when youth and beauty take flight, and when his ugly old wife exposes her ignorance or folly at every word."

Abr 23, 2018, 12:04am

Thanks for the update to the Cast of Characters in >5 lyzard:, Liz---VERY helpful.

Just flying through, but found all your comments very helpful. I had not thought out the protocol of Camilla having to wait for Edgar to initiate a conversation/meeting, it's just so 18th century that I lose patience.

Abr 23, 2018, 7:32am

I am quite a long way behind - just started Book IV - but I'm now reading Camilla on the way to work so my pace should pick up.

Abr 24, 2018, 10:59am

>45 lyzard:, >48 kac522: Adding my thank yous as I hadn't properly picked up on this either and now you've mentioned it, I'm noticing it a lot more.

Just finished Volume IV, Book VIII - feeling rather frustrated with 18th century conventions which mean Camilla can't talk to anyone of the opposite gender without being seen to be leading them on.

Abr 24, 2018, 6:35pm

>49 Sakerfalcon:

No worries, Claire, just go at your own pace; but please do continue to check in and let us know how you're going.

Editado: Abr 24, 2018, 6:40pm

>48 kac522:, >50 souloftherose:

Oh, it's infuriating! - but I think we're intended to find it infuriating; I think Burney was intent on illustrating all the traps that lurked for girls even in normal social interactions.

Camilla can't talk to anyone of the opposite gender without being seen to be leading them on.

It's even worse than that: she can't avoid talking to one man except by talking to another one---she can't get up and walk away, or ask the first man to leave her alone---but turning from one man to another makes her a "coquette"! Aarrgh!!

(We really need a pulling-your-own-hair-out emoji...)

Abr 25, 2018, 2:30am

>52 lyzard: I'm currently up to Volume V, Book IX, Chapter VI and the feelings of frustration are building - I am so cross with Edgar and Lionel right now. And poor Eugenia.

This from Volume V, Book IX, Chapter I made me cheer up briefly (but it was only short-lived):

Camilla turned aside from him; but not to weep; her spirit was now re-wakened by resentment, that he could thus propose a separation, without enquiring if she persisted to desire it.

Abr 28, 2018, 5:28am

Now up to Volume V, Book X, Chapter II and finding my reading progress has slowed as I start to seriously question whether this is going to end well for anyone.

From Volume V, Book X, Chapter I this sentence in particular struck me:

'The cautions of Edgar against Mrs. Berlinton broke into all the little relief she might have experienced upon again seeing her. She had meant to keep his final exhortations constantly in her mind, and to make all his opinions and counsels the rule and measure of her conduct: but a cruel perversity of events seemed to cast her every action into an apparent defiance of his wishes.'

The underlined section seemed a good summary of the book so far.

And a question on From Volume V, Book X, Chapter II - I've lost track of who is now inheriting Sir Hugh's fortune. Has Eugenia signed it over to Melmont and Indiana? So Sir Bellamy has forced a penniless young girl into marriage instead of an heiress (as he presumably still believes?)

Abr 28, 2018, 9:28am

>54 souloftherose: The underlined section seemed a good summary of the book so far.

I am just at Book X as well, and thinking the exact same thing. The poor girl has been worrying about something (Edgar, Lionel, her parents, money) for most of the 800+ pages so far.

Abr 28, 2018, 5:38pm

>53 souloftherose:

Unfortunately ongoing justified resentment was not considered either properly Christian or appropriately feminine. :)

>54 souloftherose:

We can hope that the message readers were supposed to take away from Camilla was not to risk injustice by judging on appearances.

One of the most exasperating things about the story to me is the imbalance between the amount of time Edgar spends preening himself over being accepted as Camilla's 'mentor', and the amount of time he actually spends helping her.

Editado: Abr 28, 2018, 6:04pm

>54 souloftherose:

Volume V, Book IX, Chapter VI

Eugenia has only promised to share her fortune with Indiana and Melmond:

She then unfolded, and gave him the paper, which contained these words:

"I here solemnly engage myself, if Miss Indiana Lynmere accepts, with the consent of Sir Hugh Tyrold, the hand of Frederic Melmond, to share with them, so united, whatever fortune or estate I may be endowed with, to the end of my life, and to bequeath them the same equal portion by will after my death.---Signed, Eugenia Tyrold."


Volume V / Book X / Chapter III

...since she is legally married, her money belongs to her husband and she cannot keep that promise.

Indiana smiled not more sweetly upon Melmond, for Miss Margland's advising her to consider in time, whether the promises made by Miss Eugenia Tyrold would be binding to Mrs Bellamy...

Of course at the moment she *has* no money as she is only Sir Hugh's heiress: this is why Bellamy sets to work on her, trying to force her to demand her fortune from Sir Hugh.

...he had already absolutely refused a residence offered for them both at Cleves, and made Eugenia herself ask a separate provision of her uncle, though she could not even a moment pretend that the desire was her own. Sir Hugh, nevertheless, had yielded; and notwithstanding his present embarrassments from Clermont, had insisted upon settling a thousand pounds a year upon her immediately; in consequence of which, Bellamy had instantly taken a house at Belfont, to which they were already removing. Eugenia had recovered her gentle fortitude, seemed to submit to her destiny, and repined solely she could not, yet, keep her engagement with respect to the trinkets, which though she had openly told Bellamy were promised to a friend, he had seized to pack up, and said, "he could not re-deliver till they were arranged in their new dwelling."


It was known, through Molly Mill, who, by the express insistance of Sir Hugh, continued to live with her young Mistress, that Bellamy had already, at Belfont, cast off the mask of pretended passion, and grossly demanded of her Mistress to beg money for him of Sir Hugh; acknowledging, without scruple, large debts, that demanded speedy payment, and pressing her to ask for the immediate possession of the Yorkshire estate. Her Mistress, though mildly, always steadily refused; which occasioned reproaches so rude and violent as almost to frighten her into fits; and so loud, that they were often heard by every servant in the house...

Abr 28, 2018, 6:27pm

I have updated the character list again, for the latter part of the novel (where characters are still being introduced!).

Editado: Abr 28, 2018, 7:39pm

Spoilers for (almost) the entire novel

The more I think about Camilla, the more it strikes me as "a novel of debt".

The debt laws in England at this time and into the 19th century; the threat of a debtors' prison; and the role of the money-lender are all pervasive in the literature of the period, understandably. Entire novels, perhaps the most famous of which is Dickens' Little Dorrit, are devoted to the subject; while authors from Henry Fielding to Anthony Trollope have their young men getting into money trouble on a regular basis, either because of gambling, or just the financial pressure of being "a man of fashion"---or even just of living in London.

Burney does this too, of course, foregrounding the extravagance of Bellamy, Clermont and Lionel---and showing (in proper 18th century style) that an inevitable result of this lifestyle is not just debt, but moral turpitude. But she also gives us Mrs Berlinton, to show that women too were subject to some of the same temptations. She ties Mrs Berlinton's lack of proper morals, displayed in her attitude to her marriage and her encouragement of Bellamy, to her susceptibility to gambling.

At the same time, I think Camilla is unique for showing how a well-brought-up, well-meaning young woman with no bad habits could be lured into serious debt.

The general absence of women from the record was largely due to the very different lives they led---with many more restrictions placed upon them, and usually without possession / control of any significant money.

This is where Camilla's unusual circumstances come into it. We have touched already upon the extent to which she is left without guidance over the course of the novel; but it isn't just that which traps her. Instead, Burney does a brilliant job depicting Camilla's step-wise slide from a half-guinea she's too embarrassed not to spend, to serious debts that she has no hope of paying and for which her father is ultimately arrested.

Of course the pivotal issue is that Lionel confides in Camilla about his own debts. Because Camilla will not give Lionel away to their father (to shield Lionel, but also so as not to burden Mr Tyrold any further), she is unable to account for her own lack of money, and for her progressive slide into personal debt. Even less can she explain her situation with regard to Sedley Clarendel. But even her good impulses come back to bite her, for instance when (in Volume V / Book IX / Chapter II) she goes guarantor for Mr Higdin. Finally she is reduced to, first, borrowing from the servant, Jacob, and then to dealings with the money-lender, Mr Clykes.

As often in this very ambiguous novel, it is difficult to decide what Burney wants us to take away from much of this---although the moral I choose to take is, Ladies, if necessary, throw your brother under a bus.

Volume V / Book IX / Chapter IV

    Camilla wept over this letter till its characters were almost effaced by her tears. To withhold from her father the knowledge of the misconduct of Lionel, what had she not suffered? what not sacrificed? yet to find it all unavailing, to find him thus informed of his son's wanton calls for money, his culpable connection, and his just fears of seeing it published and punished,---and to consider with all this, that Edgar, through these unpardonable deviations from right, was irretrievably lost to her, excited sorrow the most depressing for her father, and regrets scarce supportable for herself.
    "Well," cried Lionel, "what do you think of my case now? Don't you allow I pay pretty handsomely for a mere young man's gambol? I assure you I don't know what might have been the consequence, if Jacob had not afforded me a little comfort. He told me you were going to be married to 'squire Mandlebert, and that you were all at Southton, and that he was sure you would do any thing in the world to get me out of jeopardy; and so, thinking pretty much the same myself, here I am! Well, what say you, Camilla? Will you speak a little word for me to Edgar?"
    Shame, now taking place of affliction, stopt her tears, which dried upon her burning cheeks, as she answered, "He is well known to you, Lionel:---you can address him yourself!"
    "No; that's your mistake, my dear. I have a little odd money matter to settle with him already; and besides, we have had a sort of a falling out upon the subject; for when I spoke to him about it last, he gave himself the airs of an old justice of the peace, and said if he did not find the affair given up, nothing should induce him ever to help me again. What a mere codger that lad has turned out!"
    "Ah, noble Edgar! just, high-principled, and firm!" half pronounced Camilla, while again the icicles dissolved, and trickled down her face.
    "See but the different way in which things strike people! however, it is not very pretty in you, Camilla, to praise him for treating me so scurvily. But come, dost think he'll lend me the money?"
    "Lend," repeated she, significantly.
    "Ay lend; for I shall pay it every farthing; and every thing else."
    "And how? And when?"
    "Why,---with old unky Relvil's fortune."
    "For shame, brother!"
    "Nay, nay, you know as well as I do, I must have it at last. Who else has he to leave it to?"

Maio 1, 2018, 11:16am

Done. That ending was a bit much.

Maio 1, 2018, 6:05pm

Well done, Kathy!


Where are others up to?

Editado: Maio 2, 2018, 12:13am

After reading Camilla, one of the things I greatly appreciate about Jane Austen is how she could avoid the overly melodramatic in her stories, while still keeping them eventful. There's the occasional flight to Gretna Green, debts, gambling, allusion to a duel, fainting and illness, etc., but it never seems to get out of control. I felt the ending here was beyond control.

And on another note, I have to say, I loved the way Burney did Sir Hugh's dialogue, or more precisely, his monologues. They were really funny, and sounded so natural; very much like anybody's goofy uncle. I can almost hear Miss Bates and/or Mr Woodhouse in Sir Hugh (or rather the other way round--Sir Hugh in Miss Bates and Mr Woodhouse).

Maio 2, 2018, 1:05am

>62 kac522:

That is true, Kathy, but it needs to be put in the context of late 18th century fiction, which was very often wildly melodramatic and absurdly emotional. This was the era that gave birth to both the Gothic novel, and to the "novel of sensibility" (wherein characters often literally die of their emotions). It was an era when emotional indulgence (or self-indulgence) was encouraged: an attitude, and its associated behaviours, that Austen is mocking in Northanger Abbey and Sense And Sensibility.

So in the terms of her time, Burney was a realist :)

You're quite right about the dialogue, which is something we touched on previously. Burney had a real ear for the way people talk, and when she allowed herself to use that talent (which she didn't generally with her lead characters), she could produced some wonderful speeches.

Maio 2, 2018, 1:11am

...and you remind me of something I meant to highlight earlier: the hysterical version of Othello, with all the regional accents!

Volume II / Book IV / Chapter VIII

Noble father,
Hi do perceive ere a divided duty;
To you hi howe my life hand heducation,
My life hand heducation both do teach me
Ow to respect you. You're the lord hof duty;
Hi'm itherto your daughter: but ere's my usband!---

Editado: Maio 2, 2018, 7:05am

>61 lyzard: I'm nearing the end of book VI (I think - haven't got my copy to hand). Camilla is still in Tunbridge Wells with Mrs Arlberry, worrying about the consequences of Sedley lending money to Lionel. I could happily smack Lionel senseless ....

>64 lyzard: That was so unexpected, and hilarious!

Maio 2, 2018, 7:18am

I have fallen well behind in reading this and having read the comments on this thread from those who are far ahead I think I shall abandon. I shall continue to follow here and I hope someone will tell me how it ends! (When everyone else is far enough ahead.)

Maio 2, 2018, 11:05am

>63 lyzard: But what's amazing is that Austen is writing only a decade or so later. After reading this, JA seems light-years ahead of her time.

Editado: Maio 2, 2018, 5:51pm

>66 CDVicarage:

That's a pity, Kerry! I'm sorry it didn't work out for you.

>67 kac522:

But this is exactly the point of Jane Austen: she was a quantum leap in the development of the novel.

Austen was writing at this time, of course, her juvenilia and the first draft of Northanger Abbey; learning good things from Burney and, a little later, Maria Edgeworth; but learning predominantly from the bulk of contemporary writing what NOT to do.

Have you read Love And Freindship?

Editado: Maio 2, 2018, 6:37pm

>68 lyzard: I think it took reading this book to realize how far ahead and, well, just how smart Austen was in her writing. It's looking at Austen within the context of what's being written around her, just before and just after that is so interesting.

Although it took me a month to finish Camilla, it was well worth it, just to put Austen's work in perspective. I think because of her popularity lately we take Austen for granted these days. It seems so normal and natural, and yet, for the time (judging by Burney) it wasn't.

Gives me incentive to do some Austen re-reads, including Love and Freindship.

Editado: Maio 2, 2018, 7:08pm

All of that is true, but we musn't lose sight of the importance of Burney, and how different her books were from the majority of what was being written in her time: she not only effectively created the female-centric novel, but placed her characters within a recognisable, normal reality (even if the attendant melodrama doesn't make it seem so to us). There's a reason Austen was so influenced by her, after all.

Love And Freindship is a dead-on-the-mark satire of the sentimental novels of the time, and a perfect guide to just how ridiculous they could be.

However---perhaps the takeaway message here, as you suggest, is that you can't properly appreciate Jane Austen by only reading Jane Austen. :)

Editado: Maio 3, 2018, 10:12am

I've finished too - actually finished over the weekend but it's taken me a while to come back and post. I found this a more difficult novel to read than Evelina or Cecilia (particularly the final volume - mainly because I thought Burney was going to pull a Clarissa on me and have everyone one end up dead or life ruined) but still enjoyed this overall. I agree that the final book felt a little overwhelming in terms of the speed at which everything happens and gets resolved and felt more melodramatic than the rest of the book (or her earlier novels). The notes in my edition suggest Burney was probably influenced by the popularity of the gothic novels in the 1790s.

>59 lyzard: That's an interesting way of looking at the novel Liz, and one I hadn't considered.

'Burney does a brilliant job depicting Camilla's step-wise slide from a half-guinea she's too embarrassed not to spend, to serious debts that she has no hope of paying and for which her father is ultimately arrested.'


>62 kac522: And very much agree re Sir Hugh's monologues - they were still making me smile at the very end.

>68 lyzard:, >69 kac522:, >70 lyzard: A heartfelt yes to the Jane Austen comments! When I read Austen's juvenilia (including Love and Freindship) a few years ago I was glad I'd read a few 18th century novels to know what she was satirising. Keeping those in mind they are very funny. And as Liz says, I think Burney was at the low end of the scale for the time when it came to the melodrama.

Although I haven't read much of her work yet, Maria Edgeworth is another author of the time who can be compared to Austen (although again Austen was way ahead of her). From the little I've read Edgeworth seems less sensational, sentimental/sensible than Burney but more didactic (choose your poison I guess).

Maio 3, 2018, 10:30am

Some notes on editions and revisions:

I've been reading the Oxford World's Classics edition which is apparently based on the first edition published in 1796. The introduction and notes mention that there was a revised edition published in 1802 (which it describes as 'drastically altered' and in an appendix states that the 1802 edition is 500 pages shorter than the original. That's almost half the novel gone!

There's very little information on what was cut or why (other than saying Burney was trying to respond to critics who complained the book was too long, too didactic and had too many grammatical errors.

The notes then suggest that Burney was working on a third edition (possibly never published) which looked like it would be even longer than the first edition which makes it even more confusing.

I think I probably paid more attention to these notes given our discussions on Trollope's The Duke's Children but my mind boggles at how Burney could reduce this by 500 pages.

Editado: Maio 3, 2018, 7:10pm

>71 souloftherose:

Well done to you, too!

Heh! - no, we're not quite in Clarissa territory, thank goodness! The Gothic connection is pretty clear, although placing all this extravagance in contemporary England indicates why most Gothic writers went with "a long time ago in a galaxy Catholic country far, far away..."

Remember one of Austen's jokes in Northanger Abbey:

Charming as were all Mrs Radcliffe's works, and charming even as were the works of all her imitators, it was not in them perhaps that human nature, at least in the Midland counties of England, was to be looked for...

I think we can take that as evidence of Austen's desire for greater realism---and perhaps even as a criticism of Burney and others who allowed the Gothic trend to over-influence their own realism.

Which of course brings us to Maria Edgeworth, who is the bridge between Burney and Austen. Yes, her novels are didactic - the main focus of her writing, remember, was education - but they're not only that; they offer another fascinating snapshot of contemporary society, and were another important step in the development of the female-centric novel. (I'm actually astonished that she's not a Virago author.)

So Edgeworth would be our obvious next know, when we're done with The Wanderer... :D

Editado: Maio 3, 2018, 7:22pm

>72 souloftherose:

We need to keep in mind that's 500 sprawling, large font, early 19th-century pages---not 500 pages of Oxford University Press small print. :)

It's still a fairly savage piece of cutting, of course.

The third revision, in which she actually lengthened the novel (!), was never completed; or rather, never put in condition to be published.

I guess the point about the editing of Camilla is that, unlike the cuts to The Duke's Children (and The Macdermots Of Ballycloran, which I am going to get back to in a minute!), it never "took". Camilla was never reissued the way that Evelina and Cecilia were; and for modern editions, editors have nearly always gone back to the first edition.

Maio 4, 2018, 4:54am

I'm just starting book VIII. I was reading before leaving for work this morning and got so engrossed that I nearly didn't leave the house in time to catch my train!

Maio 4, 2018, 7:02am

>73 lyzard: 'So Edgeworth would be our obvious next know, when we're done with The Wanderer... :D'

Sounds good to me! :-D

>74 lyzard: Ah, ok, that makes sense. I've been meaning to read some biographies of Burney but it sounds like she was less confident about Camilla than her first two novels?

Maio 4, 2018, 7:03am

>75 Sakerfalcon: I did find it got harder and harder to put down towards the end!

Editado: Maio 4, 2018, 5:58pm

>75 Sakerfalcon:

We've all been there, Claire! :)

>76 souloftherose:

Camilla was a great popular success but some of the critics were harsh. Burney hadn't experienced that with her previous novels and I think she took it to heart and started second-guessing herself.

Sounds good to me! :-D

It's a plan! :D

Maio 11, 2018, 6:39am

I finished Camilla last night and found it a satisfying end to my 900 page journey! I was sorry that Mrs Arlberry and Sir Sedley Clarendel largely disappeared from the novel to be replaced by Mrs Berlinton and the Wykemans, but I did enjoy the focus on debt which became a strong theme in the novel. Poor Camilla is so quickly ensnared despite her best efforts not to part with her money. I also enjoyed Eugenia's story, though was very frustrated at her refusal to take the legitimate means available to her to get out of her forced marriage. She was a wonderful character. Indiana and Lynmere were entertaining in their awfulness, but Lionel's recklessness was too much for me to enjoy it, as it put Camilla and Eugenia in such danger. Of course the novel could have been shorter as there was some repetition of events, but despite its length I found it engaging and cared about the characters.

I suspect that stories like Camilla, and works by later authors like Charles Dickens, are what inspired today's soap operas! Convenient or improbable coincidences, lovers kept apart by unfortunate events, wild plot twists, misfortune and peril - all the ingredients are there! And it's all quite addictive too. Burney uses her characters and plot to critique her society though, with Camilla's misfortunes largely caused by her inexperience and lack of agency, a situation that many young women of her class would have been in. A lack of guidance and support from those who should be her protectors, combined with restrictive social rules about what a young woman could and couldn't do, lead Camilla into increasingly desperate circumstances, but onlookers judge her harshly - as if she should have known somehow to act differently.
(copied from my reading journal at Lyzard's request).

Maio 11, 2018, 5:41pm

Thank you, Claire! Well done on finishing. :)

Any other last remarks?

Maio 15, 2018, 6:55pm

Okay---please feel free to add any further remarks that occur to you, but otherwise we will consider this done.

Thank you all for joining in, and I hope you found this a worthwhile experience. Camilla is not an easy book in a number of different ways, but it'd another important step in the development of women's fiction.

Personally I would very much like to go on to The Wanderer---could I get any expressions of interest?

Maio 16, 2018, 9:00am

Thank you for leading this, Lyzard. I for one found it helpful to read with the group and follow all the comments and commentary here. I read far fewer pre-C20th works than I used to so I'm grateful to this project for getting them into my reading repertory every now and then.

If I can find or borrow a copy of The wanderer I would give it a go.

Maio 16, 2018, 9:52am

I've downloaded all five volumes of The Wanderer from Project Gutenberg so I will certainly start reading it with you even if I don't finish it!

Editado: Maio 16, 2018, 5:54pm

>82 Sakerfalcon:

Thank you very much for participating, Claire, and I'm very glad you found this helpful.

>82 Sakerfalcon:, >83 CDVicarage:


We'll take a break now but we can touch base again in a month or two and find ourselves a time-slot that suits. Please let me know if you have a preference, or conversely a month that's out for you.

Maio 17, 2018, 2:30am

>81 lyzard: Adding my thank yous for leading this Liz. And definitely interested in The Wanderer. I don't think I have any strong preferences for which month we read it in.

Maio 17, 2018, 6:30pm

You're very welcome. :)

Noted, thank you.

Editado: Jun 16, 2018, 2:16pm

I've been listening to Northanger Abbey (read by Juliet Stevenson) and I really had a good laugh at this passage from Chapter 7. Catherine & John Thorpe are in conversation while walking in Bath:

Her companion’s discourse now sunk from its hitherto animated pitch to nothing more than a short decisive sentence of praise or condemnation on the face of every woman they met; and Catherine, after listening and agreeing as long as she could, with all the civility and deference of the youthful female mind, fearful of hazarding an opinion of its own in opposition to that of a self–assured man, especially where the beauty of her own sex is concerned, ventured at length to vary the subject by a question which had been long uppermost in her thoughts; it was, “Have you ever read Udolpho, Mr. Thorpe?”

“Udolpho! Oh, Lord! Not I; I never read novels; I have something else to do.”

Catherine, humbled and ashamed, was going to apologize for her question, but he prevented her by saying, “Novels are all so full of nonsense and stuff; there has not been a tolerably decent one come out since Tom Jones, except The Monk; I read that t’other day; but as for all the others, they are the stupidest things in creation.”

“I think you must like Udolpho, if you were to read it; it is so very interesting.”

“Not I, faith! No, if I read any, it shall be Mrs. Radcliffe’s; her novels are amusing enough; they are worth reading; some fun and nature in them.”

“Udolpho was written by Mrs. Radcliffe,” said Catherine, with some hesitation, from the fear of mortifying him.

“No sure; was it? Aye, I remember, so it was; I was thinking of that other stupid book, written by that woman they make such a fuss about, she who married the French emigrant.”

“I suppose you mean Camilla?”

“Yes, that’s the book; such unnatural stuff! An old man playing at see–saw, I took up the first volume once and looked it over, but I soon found it would not do; indeed I guessed what sort of stuff it must be before I saw it: as soon as I heard she had married an emigrant, I was sure I should never be able to get through it.”

“I have never read it.”

“You had no loss, I assure you; it is the horridest nonsense you can imagine; there is nothing in the world in it but an old man’s playing at see–saw and learning Latin; upon my soul there is not.”

Jun 17, 2018, 9:43am

Whoa! This made me LOL. Not much has changed in some quarters has it? :) I emphasize the 'some' because in my family none of the men are like this.

Editado: Jun 19, 2018, 5:55pm

>87 kac522:

Thanks for posting that, Kathy!

All throughout Northanger Abbey we are encouraged to judge the characters by their attitude to reading and their choice of books, and if we weren't already thoroughly contemptuous of John Thorpe, *that* would do the trick! :D

Austen has many tributes to Frances Burney in her books. With this one we should remember that the first draft of Northanger Abbey was written around 1798, just after Camilla was published. It is significant that in revising her manuscript two decades later, Austen saw no need to alter that passage. It is also interesting that for all her passion for Gothic novels, Catherine obviously reads "better" or "more improving" books too.

And since we are speaking of Northanger Abbey, I simply have to post this quote yet again:

"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."
---Henry Tilney

Jun 19, 2018, 11:20pm

>89 lyzard: Ah good ol' Henry, my heart-throb...

Jun 20, 2018, 7:08am

>87 kac522: Thanks for sharing that quote - I'd forgotten that reference to Camilla (*makes mental note to reread Northanger Abbey again*)

>89 lyzard:, >90 kac522: Henry is my favourite Austen hero.

Jun 20, 2018, 12:50pm

Editado: Jun 23, 2018, 4:03pm

I have just finished listening to Northanger Abbey, and the last line of the book now strikes me as echoing Camilla:

To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is to do pretty well; and professing myself moreover convinced that the General's unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.

Editado: Jun 24, 2018, 8:31pm

That may be one of the novels she had in mind, but the fact is that the vast majority of 18th century novels, and particularly those by women (which were "supposed" to be "improving"), ended with a paragraph pointing out how the perfectly happy central couple had been rewarded by Providence for their piety and morality and generally perfect behaviour. Austen was exasperated by that sort of thing and this is her way of thumbing her nose at it. :)

Editado: Jun 24, 2018, 8:19pm

>94 lyzard: I was thinking here about the dubious parental influence theme from both books: "The Kids Are Alright, If Only Adults Wouldn't Interfere So Much."

Jun 24, 2018, 8:31pm