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    Sana wrote a new post, Lord Orville, on the site Origins of the "Novel" 6 years, 4 months ago

    While reading Evelina, I kept thinking of how her situation and relationship was shaped in the eyes of Lord Orville.

    For Evelina, it was either have Lord Orville as a lover, or not have him at all. Thus, […]

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    Sana wrote a new post, Dancing as a Common Custom, on the site Origins of the "Novel" 6 years, 4 months ago

    In London people apply the best costumes, wear wonderful clothes and attend the best social events. It was the heart of Europe. Since common customs in Europe were not similar, one must be prepared to live in such […]

    • It is true that Evelina and Roxana differed greatly. I would say that Evelina’s situation was somewhat drastic from the beginning, which put her in uncomfortable situations when she grew older.

    • I was under the impression that Evelina was raised in England, otherwise she would be more at ease in her conversations with Mon. Du Bois (which she adamantly avoids because she cannot speak French). Evelina’s amazement at a “private” ball is not because she’s used to different ones in France, but that she’s from the country and had no occasion to attend a ball of any sort. I do agree that she is confused at how to behave, her numerous goof ups throughout Volume I make that clear.

      It doesn’t seem fair to compare Roxana to Evelina. Roxana is an adult by the time we meet her, Evelina is merely 16/17. And Roxana was raised with money, where Evelina appears to be more accustomed to meager means. Moreover, Evelina’s growth through the first two volumes is vast! She realizes that the Branghton family behaves completely inappropriately, especially for a family of substantial means from the city.

    • I agree that it must be tough for Evalina, showing up without the possibility of knowing how should she behave, as she mentioned, she hoped very much that there is a guide or something to tell her all about it before the embarrassment happened.

    • I agree that Evelina’s struggles with assimilating to the culture in London make her a sympathetic character. I’m curious about what Burney’s intention was in writing a novel about a girl as unfamiliar with such customs as Evelina is. In my reading, I found that Evelina’s distance from such social norms gave Burney the freedom to explore their validity (perhaps absurdity?). The passage that comes to mind for me is from Letter XI. In relating her experience at the “private ball”, Evelina describes to Mr. Villars the behavior of the gentleman in attendance:

      “The gentlemen, as they passed and reposed, looked as if they thought we were quite at their disposal, and only waiting for the honor of their commands; and they sauntered about, in a careless indolent manner, as if with a view to keep us in suspense. I don’t speak of this in regard to Miss Mirvan and myself one, but to the ladies in general; and I thought it so provoking, that I determined, in my own mind, that, far from humoring such airs, I would rather not dance at all, than with any one who should seem to think me ready to accept the first partner who would condescend to take me.” (Burney 31)

      Because Evelina is an “outsider” (having grown up in a more rural part of England), it is perfectly understandable that she would find customs in London unusual (if not downright insulting). If she had been raised in London and grew up knowing about private balls and the social mores that are associated with them, then articulating such a negative opinion about them would have been much more transgressive and, likely, frowned upon. Of course, Evelina is young and impressionable, and it’s unsurprising that she ends up changing her mind and dancing with Lord Orville at this ball. In fact, there are numerous times in the novel when she make such determinations not to engage in particular social customs, only to change her mind and ultimately enjoy the very event she previously condemned. The fact that she ultimately comes to accept many of these customs (and her anxiety about embarrassing herself by failing to behave appropriately) seem appropriate for a young girl making her “Entrance into the world” (Burney 8), but I think that Burney uses Evelina’s naïveté to her advantage and takes the opportunity to call into question the merit of some of these social customs.

    • While there are very evident differences between Roxana and Evelina, not to mention the cultural changes that accompany the 70 years or so that have passed between the publication of the two books, it is interesting to consider the way the legibility of this particular cultural act (note: “custom,” not “costume,” which is very different!)–dance–shifts. Both Roxana and Evelina participate in dance, but in very different contexts and with very different ends. Or are they? Roxana’s expert Turkish dance is the tool through which she gains another lover, and more money; Evelina’s inexpert dance and poor knowledge of the rules surrounding genteel behavior in this context gains her the attention of a variety of suitors. What makes Roxana’s dance different from Evelina’s? What can we learn from paralleling these two moments?

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    Sana wrote a new post, Sentimental Journey 101, on the site Origins of the "Novel" 6 years, 4 months ago

    While reading this novel, many questions were in my mind;

    How sentimental Yorick is? How would he describe Sentimental feelings?

    The connection between the title and the journey is not obvious. So, I googled […]

    • I hadn’t actually considered Yorick to have no sentimental feelings, I just regarded him as an observer of others. And I think you’re right that he notices emotions in other people, while maintaining a healthy distance from other people. The way Sterne writes this appears to me to be an observational guide of people on his journey though. In that case, it is not surprising that Yorick maintains a certain distance from those around him, so as to not interfere with his observational skills (and his people skills, which are nill shown in his surprise when he’s thrown out of the hotel after spending a few hours with a woman unaccompanied in his hotel room).

    • I agree with you, Yorick claims to be a sentimental traveler, yet he does not act like one. Yorick claims to have unchangeable deep love and loyalty to Eliza, yet he tries to have a relationship with each and every good looking female he can see. And he hires a young lad who knows nothing but flirting with girls as his squire, why does it sound like a rich-naive-collage-new-student-of-England, gathering the same kind of people to party 7×24 and gets “sentimental” to all beautiful girls?

    • This is very interesting, Sana–there’s actually a whole discourse on sentimentalism in literature of the 18th century, Sterne in particular. You might look up work by a scholar named Markman Ellis, and particularly a book of his on the politics of sensibility. Emotionalism is a prominent feature of sentimentalism, but it serves a purpose, as well. Your post goes some way to addressing the function of sentimentalism in the novel, but we can press further. I’m not sure that Yorick “had almost no emotional attachments to anyone or possibly to anything” either before or during his journey, though–much, if not all, of the book is an exploration of Yorick’s affect. Yet, you’re right, that affect is somewhat removed from others’ pain. He sees it, sympathizes, sheds a tear, gives money, feels briefly with and for the other, and then moves on. So, how does sentiment function in the novel?

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    Sana wrote a new post, Reading Pamela, on the site Origins of the "Novel" 6 years, 4 months ago

    Pamela is a very interesting novel to read especially because it is mainly based on letters. Letters are told in the first person; emotions are explained or expressed after the event that is while writing the […]

    • Interesting. Pamela is limited by her own perspectives and views, but this novel seems to have many layers. It is interesting how the sense of audience, and who this novel was intended, is another factor to consider.

    • As you have pointed out, the whole book is all about Pamela in her perspective. Your point inspired me to this question: Can we assume what Pamela is trying the hide is Richardson’s dark inner thoughts? Perhaps, I just guess, maybe he fantasises himself to be in a position of Mr.B: Find a perfect girl, lock her up, try different ways to rape her, at last if not successful, still have the option of marrying her. He’s having her one way or another, would that be a perfect world for Richardson himself? Is that also why he couldn’t take it easy when Shamela was created?

    • I would agree that Pamela wants to set herself up for an upgrade, marriage wise. But I would have to add to your point that her letters are filtered, because she’s writing to her parents. We should consider that perspective, which I think makes your points about Pamela hiding her feelings all the more interesting. She’s a young woman who cannot (?) truly divulge her feelings the way she may wish, her only outlet seems to be her parents. Which makes me wonder if Mr. B initially behaves in the way Pamela claims.

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    Sana wrote a new post, Reading Roxana, on the site Origins of the "Novel" 6 years, 5 months ago

    It is more interesting to imagine a man reading Roxana than a woman. Daniel Defoe has placed Roxana in many misfortunes that transformed her into a ‘Whore’, a ‘Servant’ or a ‘greedy’ woman. Most occasions w […]

    • A question of audience is important. In fact, who Defoe intended to write for as an audience, this shapes our understanding as an audience. While it is true, that certain groups gained from these conquests, I would say that Defoe writes this novel to advise females against false attempts through contractual marriage that really did not guarantee them protection under the law. Whereas, the Prince was kind, he still took advantage of Roxana’s position. This may be a piece of advice for women, at a time when the middle class was rising and traditional standards that governed society may have been of question.

    • I would ask the same; If Roxana is called a whore, what should we call ‘the men’? I am not sure whether Defoe realized the unbalance, and inequity between men and women in that society, or he just wanted to express this for readers in depicting such character like Roxana to explore deeply implication by readers. Trust is mutual to wives and husbands, how can we definite that Roxana is wrong under the discriminatory just society? She had to live and survive; under some of the circumstances, she had no better option but to experience everything.

    • Interesting! I am inclined to agree with Sana, but this is primarily because I read the text as an experiment in normalizing misogynistic gender expectations. Yet, many more women were reading, and women, to be sure, read this novel. I wonder about the efficacy, though, of the idea of the “warning” reading? How convinced are we by that?

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    Sana wrote a new post, Refugees’ Assimilating and Value, on the site Origins of the "Novel" 6 years, 5 months ago

    This has been a very interesting reading. It was a flashback of my memories as a refugee. Ironically, I was the one who picked this novel.

    The first thing that drew my attention about this novel is Roxana’s d […]

    • That is interesting. I wonder how we could revise the plot to include more of Roxana’s thoughts and knowledge of the cities that she has travelled?

    • Indeed, she did very well in adopting the new language and culture. As a result, she did manage to peel off most of the France sign on her and lived most of her days in London. She is lucky to have the transfer at such a young age; it seems like the process was very less painful, hardly did she need to set up her mind and work hard for it.

    • Roxana’s status as a political refugee is really important to the novel, and she differentiates her reason for leaving France and moving to England from others who are seeking “livelihood”–what does this tell us about her as a character? Are there any places where Protestantism and Catholicism arise elsewhere in the text? You might trace these images through the novel, thinking about how they intersect with her mobility, and the other images of travel and movement. When she is living as the Prince’s mistress, remember that he purchases her a “Turkish slave,” from whom she learns the language, as well. Roxana is a rather cosmopolitan figure, it seems. I wonder how her cosmopolitanism is functioning in the novel?

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    Sana wrote a new post, The Tragic Character, on the site Origins of the "Novel" 6 years, 5 months ago

    Oroonoko a truly tragic novel, but who is the tragic hero?

    First, ‘tragic hero’ is the literal character who makes a choice that would lead to his death.

    So, who is the ‘Tragic Hero’ in Aphra Behn’s n […]

    • I agree, definitely. Oroonoko’s pursuit had dire consequences and it contributed to his demise. He is a tragic character.

    • Agree, Both of them had many opportunities to prevent the final tragic, however, every chance of it will cost them something else, which they chose not to compromise with. In a certain point of view, they did not make the best possible long term decision. But life is not a game, they did not get the chance to save and load, neither could they possibly find the best balance between life, love and honor.

    • You make an interesting argument about Oroonoko’s downfall being a result of Imoinda’s choices. I think that this is one way of reading the novel, but I personally had a different interpretation. I felt that both Oroonoko and Imoinda were victims of other characters’ greed and deceit, and that together they filled the role of the “tragic hero”. In the passages describing the royal veil, I got the sense that Behn wanted her audience to view Oroonoko’s grandfather in a negative light, not Imoinda. The grandfather was fully aware that Oroonoko and Imoinda were in love, but he still chose to send her a royal veil. Behn writes: “[their love] gave the old king some affliction, but he salved it with this, that the obedience the people pay their king was not at all inferior to what they paid their gods, and what love would not oblige Imoinda to do, duty would compel her to” (Behn 19). The grandfather’s willingness to use his position of power to manipulate Imoinda paints him as a corrupt and despicable character, and these undesirable traits are underscored by Imoinda’s unwavering commitment to duty and honor. Her reaction to receiving the veil shows that she is heartbroken but also aware of her cultural/moral obligation to accept the invitation: “It is not to be imagined the surprise and grief that seized this lovely maid at this news and sight. However, as delays in these cases are dangerous and pleading worse than treason, trembling and almost fainting she was obliged to suffer herself to be covered and led away” (19). In my blog post, I suggested that Oroonoko and Imoinda can be read as representations of honor and moral integrity. If Imoinda had disregarded the cultural custom of accepting the king’s veil, then she would have been an inadequate model of the virtue of duty.

    • This seems to see Oroonoko as primarily a heroic romance organized around the pursuit of love–but is that the only thing the novel is about? Definitely, there are elements of heroic romance in the novel, particularly between Imoinda and Oroonoko as both the “best,” “noblest,” and “most beautiful” of beings. But, what about the novel might undercut this idea? What else is the novel about that might complicate seeing it as purely a romance?

    • As much as I want to see this from your perspective, about Imoinda, I cannot follow through with your logic. How much choice does Imoinda really have in accepting the royal veil? I think it’s human nature to be hopeful, to some extent, and have some sort of self-preservation, both of which I believe Imoinda expresses by not killing herself. Your argument about Imoinda not killing herself is really blaming her for being caught and put into a harem, and saying that suicide or suicide by veil choice is her only option for being seen as a sort of “faithful” woman.

      I do however agree that Oroonoko is preoccupied with Imoinda’s situation. Which isn’t surprising considering he’s in love with her.

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    Sana wrote a new post, Hello, on the site Origins of the "Novel" 6 years, 5 months ago


    my name is Sana. It is pleasure to be here reading novels. I have an M.A. In Linguistics. I love Arabic literature. Now it is time to explore British literature in the 18th century. I love traveling. And I […]