Review by Choice Review
All recent work on Burney is written in the shadow of Margaret Doody's magisterial Frances Burney: The Life in the Works (CH, May'89, 26-4924), but that book--like Doody's essay here on Burney's quasi-political ethic of freedom--worked at a level so abstract that only readers already intimate with Burney could make full use of it. Most of the essays here are accessible and present the latest knowledge about Burney's tangled relations with her family; her novels, plays, and personal writings (journals and letters); and "Burney and Gender," "Burney and Politics," "Burney and Society," and "Burney and the Literary Marketplace." The Burney who emerges from this volume is a reluctant conservative, a complex, important social thinker. This said, though many of the contributors remind the reader that Burney has too long lived only in the shadow of Jane Austen, one finds almost nothing in this useful but tedious book to suggest that Burney's novels or plays possess any literary merit or that her work is of other than historical interest. Summing Up: Recommended. With reservations. Upper-division undergraduates and graduate students. D. L. Patey Smith College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.