Image of Frances Burney, 1782 (painted by Edward Francesco Burney) The Burney Centre at McGill University
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Cecilia

Cecilia
By Frances Burney
Edited by Peter Sabor and Margaret Doody
Oxford World's Classics, 1988



From the back-cover:

Cecilia is an heiress, but will inherit her estate only if her husband consents to take her surname.

Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress (1782) is an unusual and disturbing love story. In playing on the issue of the heroine's name, the novel illustrates the high cost of a patriarchal system. Burney exhibits her comic and satiric powers in depicting Cecilia's dismaying entry into the gilded fashionable world. Cecilia's experiences also bring her into contact with the poor and the low; running through the social analysis is an almost Dickensian forceful sympathy for those whose place in the structure of things is taken for granted. Controversial in its time, and much admired by writers as diverse as Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Choderlos de Laclos, Cecilia still retains its freshness.

This edition presents Cecilia as it first appeared in 1782, indicating changes Burney made to later editions. It includes Burney's cancelled 'Introduction', printed (and annotated) here for the first time, as transcribed from the manuscript.



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