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The Wanderer by Fanny Burney

The Wanderer (1814)

by Fanny Burney

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This is the last novel Frances Burney wrote and, for some reason, the only one not currently in print which I think is a shame because for me this is the strongest of her novels (although not necessarily the easiest to read).

Published in 1814 (the same year as Jane Austen's Mansfield Park) but written more in an 18th century style and set mostly in England in 1793 against the background of the French Revolution, [The Wanderer] sets out how difficult it was for young women to survive at that time without the protection of a man or money (which generally also came from a man).

From a modern day viewpoint the book suffers from some repetitiveness in that Burney makes her heroine repeatedly try different solutions to her difficulties only to fail at each attempt but from an 18th/19th century perspective the point needed to be repeated. And whilst women now (thankfully) have more financial independence, the repeated themes of women being threatened by men, mistreated by men and doubted by men sadly felt all too relevant as I was reading this over the summer. So, not exactly a cheerful book despite the convenient 'happy' ending but I think an important one and one that deserves more attention (and an edition in print). ( )
  souloftherose | Oct 30, 2018 |
No eighteenth century novel begins as memorably as this one. Escaping the French Revolution, a group of English people are secreted on board a ship that just manages to flee the Reign of Terror. The last passenger to board is a mysterious black woman...
Okay, the novel never lives up to the excitement of the opening and I wanted 'the incognita' to turn out to be Sir Thomas Bertram's mixed race child by one of his slaves in Antigua but it is incredibly fascinating. A whole other side to Jane Austen's world is here; the jolly determined working seamstresses, cruel rich women and predatory men - the sneer behind Wickham's charming smile. Don't read it because of the Austen connection - read it because Fanny Burney is yes at times like treading through mud - awful Johnsonian sentences and some hilarious gothick melodrama - but then you fall in and come across a precious brilliant bauble!
3 vote Sarahursula | May 29, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fanny Burneyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Doody, MargaretEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mack, Robert L.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabor, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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During the dire reign of Robespierre, and in the dead of night, braving the cold, the darkness and the damps of December, some English passengers, in a small vessel, were preparing to glide silently from the coast of France, when a voice of keen distress resounded from the shore, imploring, in the French language, pity and admission.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192821334, Paperback)

"The Wanderer" or "Female Difficulties" is the tale of a penniless emigree from revolutionary France trying to earn her living in England while guarding her own secrets. Combining the best elements of the Gothic and historical novels, this work is an extraordinary piece of Romantic fiction. Burney's tough comedy offers a satiric view of complacent middle-class insularity that echoes Godwin and Wollstonecraft's attacks on the English social structure. The problems of the new feminism and of the old anti-feminism are explored in the relationship between the heroine and her English patroness and rival, the Wollstonecraftian Elinor Joddrel, and the racism inherent within both the French and British empires is exposed when the emigree disguises herself as a black woman. This edition is fully annotated with appendices on the French Revolution, race relations, amusements and geography, and a previously unpublished manuscript revealing the connection between "The Wanderer" and "Camilla".

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:02 -0400)

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