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"AllWoveintoOne":Camilla, theProseEpic,andFamilyValues SARAK.AUSTIN Fromthebeginningofherliterarycareer,FrancesBurneyworriedabout thestigmaofwritingforthenovelmarket.Herconcern,initiallyfocused primarilyonherfearofpersonalexposure,camelatertocenterinsteadon thegenerictermnovel.IntheprefacetoEvelina,notingthegeneraltendency toseenovelistsaslessthanrespectable,Burneyannouncedherselftobe "happilywrappedupinamantleofimpenetrableobscurity"1whichshefelt wouldshieldherfromcriticism.Bythetimeofherthirdnovel,Camilla (1796),however,herauthorshipwaswidelyknownandcelebrated;nolonger concernedtohidehername,BurneysignedherdedicationtotheQueen.But shewascareful,asherletterstestify,toensurethatCamillabedenominated aworkratherthananovel.InpublishingEvelina,thatis,Burney'simpulse wastoeraseherownname;withCamillashewishedinsteadtoerasethe namenovel. Thisshiftissuggestive,forittracksachangeintheculturalperceptionof novelistsandnovels:bytheendofthecentury,novelistsasacategoryofwriterhadlargelyshedtheirreputationforimmodesty,whilenovelsthem- selveswereincreasinglycondemnedasmerecommodities.Moreandmore, commentaryonthenoveldescribeditdismissivelyasamass-producedcon- sumeritem.Thisperceptionofthenovel,furthermore,coincidedwiththe viewthatwomenhadcometodominatenovelproduction,andthesetwo developmentswerefrequentlylinked,asTerryLovellhasshown.2Thus,when 273 274/AUSTIN theMonthlyReviewsaidofnovel-writingthat"thisbranchoftheliterary tradeappearsnow,tobealmostentirelyengrossedbytheLadies,"thereviewerreflectedthecommonviewthatthetransformationofauthorshipinto "trade"wasassociatedwithwomenwriters'monopoly.3 Thisheightenedconcernwiththecommodificationandfeminizationof theliteraryspherecoincidedwithaperiodofpoliticalandsocialinstability which,asClaudiaJohnsonhasremarked,wasfrequentlyunderstoodasa "crisisingender."4RuthBernardYeazellhasdescribedthiscrisisasa"nearly hystericalobsessionwithsexualdifferencethat[surfaced]inEnglandinthe aftermathoftheFrenchRevolution—anobsessionthatmakesfemalemod- esty,inthewordsofoneanti-Jacobintract,'thelastbarrierofcivilizedsoci- ety.'"5Thisobsessionexpresseditselfinpartthroughtheproliferationof conductbooksandtractsonfemaleeducationthatsoughttoinculcateaswell astonaturalizeparticularversionsoffemininity.AsYeazellnotes,however, theveryneedforconductbookstoteachwomenhowtobeproperlyfeminine tendedtounderminetheirattemptstonaturalizefemininity.Concernsthat femininitywasmerelyanartificialsetofschooledbehaviorsweredeepened bytheexplosivegrowthofboardingschoolspromisingtomakemiddle-class daughtersintoladiesbyteachingthemacodifiedsetofaccomplishments. Thefactthatthesebehaviorswereforsaletothemerchantmiddleclass heightenedfearsthatfemininitywasnotonlyartificial,buthadbecomea mass-producedcommodity,availabletoanyonewillingtopayforit.Thus thespecterofthecommodificationoffemalecharactercontinuallyhaunts thelateeighteenth-centuryprojectofstabilizingandnaturalizingfemininity. Thispaperispartofalargerprojectthatexploresthisconjunctionof anxietiesaboutthecommodificationofliteratureandoffemininityattheend oftheeighteenthcentury.Itismycontentionthatnovelistsofthisperiod drewonanalogiesbetweenthepositionsofyoungwomenonthemarriage marketandnovelsontheliterarymarketplace,andsoughttodistinguishtheir novelsandheroinesfromcommoditiesthroughexperimentsinformandchar- acterization.Camilla,publishedin1796,isanaptexamplebecauseitrepre- sentsasignificantformaldeparturefromBurney'searliernovels.Thisde- parturehastoooftenbeenignoredordismissedasanunfortunateconcession toBurney'sneedformoney.Withoutadoubt,Burney's1793marriageto Alexandred'ArblayandthebirthofyoungAlexthenextyearmadeCamilla financiallynecessary.Becausetheexiledd'Arblaywasunabletosupportthefamily,Burneyneededtosupplementhersmallincome(fromaroyalpension andCecilia'scopyright)inorderforthemtolivecomfortably.Shetherefore madesureofaprofitbysellingthenovelbysubscriptionandinstructingher brotherCharlestoselltheprintingrightsandcopyrighttothehighestbidder. "AllWoveintoOne":Camilla,theProseEpic,andFamilyValues/275 TheresultofBurney'sheightenedinterestinherwork'smonetaryvalue, asMargaretAnneDoodynotes,hasbeenthatcriticsseethenovelasmere hack-work.6Thisdismissalissurprising,forrecentBurneycriticismhasof-tenfocusedonBurney'ssophisticatedexaminationofmoneyandthemarket- place,particularlythesystemsofcreditanddebt,inherearliernovels.7Yet Camilla'srelationshiptotheseissuesisrarelygivensuchrespectfulatten- tion,largelybecauseBurneyavowedlywroteittosupportherfamily.8The viewofCamillaashack-workhasaddedasourceofammunitiontothose whocondemnherlaternovelsasexcessivelydidactic;inthisview,Burney's vulgardidacticismissupplementedbyevenmorevulgarmoney-grubbing. JoyceHemlowinfluentiallylinkedthetwoalmostfiftyyearsago,whenshe arguedthatBurney,inordertopleaseanaudienceaccustomedtoconduct books,"succumbedtothetemperoftheage,"andwrotea"potboiler."9This strainofcritiquehashadgreatstayingpower.Tomentionjustonerecent example,CatherineGallaghercallsCamillaa"capitulationtowhattheau- thorapparentlybelievedwerethedemandsofheranonymouspublic"whichwas"designedtopleaseeverytaste."10SuchcriticismcondemnsCamillaasamerecommodity,writtenbyrecipetoincreaseitsprofitability.Itslength andheterogeneityareunderstoodasattemptstoattractbuyersbythrowing inalittlebitofeverything. IwillargueinsteadthatBurney,farfromengaginginhack-work,sought rathertodissociateCamillafromthecommodifiednovel,thereputationofwhichshewaswellaware.Byassociatingherworkinsteadwiththe"prose epic,"whichshedefinedasaunifiedfictionoflargescope,shelaidclaimto adisinterestedaestheticgenre,onethatwasnotafeminizedcommodity.She satisfiedtheproseepic'srequirementofunitybycenteringhernovelonthe largeextendedfamilyoftheTyrolds,whoseaffectivetiesbindnotonlythe family'smembers,butalsothepartsofthenovel,intoaunifiedwhole.Thus, Iwillargue,familyattachmentservesastheprincipleofepicunityinthe novel,aunitythatpreventedthenovelfrombecomingamerecommodity. Theseties,furthermore,protectCamillaherselffromthealienationofthe marriagemarket;herquasi-incestuous"prepossession"(358)forherfather's wardenableshertoresistherowncommodification.InCamilla,familycon- nectionisthusopposedtothefragmentationandalienationcharacteristicof themarketplace,andBurneyportraysvirtuoussocialrelationsgenerallyas therefiguringofmarketvaluesasfamilyvalues.Theconclusionofthenovel, however,suggestsBurney'sanxietyaboutthestabilityofthesetranslations, forifmarketvaluescanberefiguredasfamilysentiment,familyconnections canequallybecashedinformoney.Whilefamilytiesareultimatelyreinstated ,theoverridingtoneoftheconclusionpointstoanuneasinessaboutthe 276/AUSTIN abilityofCamilla,andBumeyherself,tofindrefugefromthemarketinthe bosomsoftheirfamilies." /.TheNovelandtheProseEpic AsMargaretAnneDoodyhasdemonstrated,whatweknowofBurney'scompositionofCamillahardlyfitstheimageofahackwriterdashingoffa potboiler.Doodyrightlyemphasizestheamountoftimeandlaborexpended uponthemanuscript,pointingoutthatBurneythoroughlytransformedthe Clorindamanuscript,herfirststabatCamilla: Bumeythensacrificedonenovelinordertowriteanother.Anynovelist willrealizetheamountofeffortandpaininvolved....WhateverCamilla maybe,itisnothackworkbuttheresultofthought,andofthemostcostly kindofrevision—throwingawaywholeconcepts,ineffectawholenovel. Noonewritingformoneyalonewoulddosuchathing....Bumeymust havegotridofthatbookbecauseshereallyfoundshewantedtowrite somethingelse.Nowritercommitssuchasacrificeunlessthereisagreater aestheticobjectinview.12 Extralaborandsacrifice,ofcourse,donotautomaticallyproducegreataes- theticachievement.ButitdoessuggestthatwemisssomethingifweaccountforCamilla'sdifferencefromBurney'searliernovelsbyblamingtheneed for money alone. Whetherornotsheinfactachievedheraim,Burney'sdescriptionofher projectindeeddemonstratesthatshesawitasanexperimentformallydis- tinctfromherearliernovels.ShewasnottryingsimplytoreproduceEvelina andCeciliainnewdress,thoughthiswouldseemtheclearestpathtothe profitsherequired.AsIhavenotedabove,sheinsistedonadvertisingCamilla asa"work,"ratherthana"novel,"asshehadtermedherfirsttwoproduc- tions.13Thiswasdespitethefactthat,ashersisterSusannaPhillipspointed out,"aNovelw4bemoreunexceptionable&morecertaintoattractthana newwork."14AlthoughBumeyeventuallyyieldedinthematterofadvertise- ments,theterm"novel"isnevermentionedinCamilla.Herdedicationtothe Queen,andheracknowledgementoffriendswhohadtakensubscriptions, bothpointedlyspeakofitasa"Work."15Defendingherchoice,Burneyin- sistedthattheterm"novel""givessosimplythenotionofamerelovestory thatIrecoilalittlefromit";shelaterreiteratedthat"Iannexsomerelyto thattitle,inageneralsense,astaringLoveStory."16Sheassociatedthenovel, inotherwords,withdiminishment—"simply,""mere,""merely"—andas- sociatedsuchdiminishmentwithanarrowfocusontheromanticdyad.HerdescriptionofCamilla,bycontrast,emphasizedthelargerscopeofherplan "AllWoveintoOne":CarruTJa,theProseEpic,andFamilyValues/277 aswellasitsunity.Whileshesaidtheworkwas"ofthesamespeciesas Evelina&Cecilia,"sheinsistedthatitwas newmodified,inbeingmoremultifariousintheCharactersitbringsinto action,—butallwoveintoone,withoneHeroineshiningconspicuous throughtheGroup,&thatin...theproseEpicStyle,forsofaristheWork fromconsistingofdetachedstories,thatthereisnot,literally,oneEpisode intheentireplan.17 Herformulationsuggeststhatshesawhernewworkasgenerousinscope;in sheerrange,atleast,Camillawouldprovideherreaderswithmorethana merenovel.Herfurtherinsistenceonitsunity—andtheconnectiontoepic formwhichunitymadepossible—alsoenabledhertodistinguishherwork fromhack-work.18 Forbylayingclaimtothetitle"proseepic,"Burneywasstakingouthigher literarygroundforherself.19Thetermwasassociatedatthetimeprimarily withCervantesandHenryFielding,andherchoiceofitmayhavepartly beenanattempttolayclaimtotheirpresumedartisticdisinterestednessas "classic"novel-writersinthenewlyestablishedcanon.20ButBurneyseems alsotohavebeenquiteinterestedintheformalqualitiesoftheproseepic, quitepossiblybecausetheproseepic'srequirementoflargescopeandunity impliedagreaterinvestmentofliterarytalentthanthemerenovel,andher workcouldtherebybefurtherdistinguishedfromhack-work.Dr.Burney hadinitiallyexpressedconcern,uponreadingsectionsofCamilla,thatit wascomposedof"detachedstories,"21andtheabove-citeddescriptionofher workcameinresponsetohisquery,andstronglyemphasizedherwork's unity. Theemphasisissignificantbecausethecommodificationofthenovelat theendofthecenturywasimputedtothepatchworknatureofmanynovels. AsJohnTinnonTaylornotes,reviewersoftensarcasticallyattributedthe poorqualityofmuchnovelisticproductiontohackwriterscobblingtogether bitsofpreviousnovelstomeettheinsatiabledemandofcirculatinglibraries. Taylorcites,forinstance,theMonthlyReview's1791mock-lamentthat Swift'sbook-composingmachineinGulliver'sTravelswasnotpracticable, sincesuchamachinecouldautomaticallycarryoutthecuttingandpasting requisitetotransformingoldnovelsintonew.22Mockrecipesfornovelswere afrequentformofnovelcritique.Thus,forexample,JaneWestcounseled theprospectivenovelwriterinherprefacetoTheRefusal: ToonegrainofJohnsonaddapoundofSterne,melttheminacrucibletill theyperfectlyamalgamate;thisistheonlydifficultpartoftheprocess,for theparticlesareextremelyheterogeneous.Youmustpourinalittletine- 278/AUSTIN tureofreligion,whichyoumayproduceeitherfrom"economyofhuman life,"the"EssayonMan,"oranyGermantreatiseondivinity.Sweetenit withagreatquantityofVoltaire'sliberality,beatittoafroth,thenswallow itwhileinastateofeffervescence,andbegintowriteimmediately.23Suchformulaicproductionofnovelsobviouslyemphasizedtheirstatusas commodities,andtherelativelackofaddedvalueinanyparticularnovel. Commodifiednovelswerelessdifficulttowrite,andhencemoreprofitable, becausetheywerecomposedofarecycledsetofdetachedelements;these ingredientswerestrungtogetherwithoutregardtoaestheticunity,butsimply inorderto"fillupavolume."Onecommentatorwhoofferedarecipefor novel-writingsuggestedthatthenovelistneednottroubleherprettyhead aboutthecoherenceoftheplot:"Forthestory,noparticularpainsarerequi- site;asitarisesnaturallyoutoftheincidents."24Thesarcasmheretestifiestothelackofnarrativeconnectiongenerallytobefoundinthehacknovel.In thiscontext,Burney'sinsistenceonCamilla'sunitywasawayofpointingto theartisticlaborinvolved;thislaborwasaboveandbeyondthatrequired simplytofillpages,andwaspresumablyactuatedbyaestheticmotivesrather thantheneedforprofit.Theideaofunitythusprovidedadefenseagainst accusationsofliterarycommodification. TheepicunityonwhichBurneyinsistedwas,furthermore,aparticularly necessaryqualificationforherlaternovels,whichwere"epic"insheerphysi- calsizeaswellasscope.Camilla'slengthwasinfactasourceofcontempo- rarycriticism.AftervisitinghispublisherG.G.&J.Robinson,Dr.Bumey worriedlywrotetoCharlesBumey,Jr.that"Rfobinson]wasfrankenoughto tellme,that'therewasbutoneopinionabout[Camilla]—M""d'Arblaywas determinedtofill5Volumes—&haddoneitinsuchamanneraswddoher nocredit.'"25Sincethepriceofanovel'scopyrightwasinpartsetbyits length,alengthynovelwasopentothecritiqueofhavingbeendeliberately puffedupinordertoincreaseprofit.Theaddedlaborinthiscasewasbuttoo materiallyvisible.Bumeywasmuchawareofthisproblemwhilecomposing Camilla,notingtoherfatherthatitwillbe"agreatwork—Imeaninbulk— &verylonginhand."26TheproblemofhowlongthenoveloughttobehauntedBurneythroughouttheprocessofcomposition.Herpreoccupationwiththe matterishardlysurprising,consideringthatshecouldbeaccusedofprofi- teeringwhethershemadeitlongerorshorter.Ifshemadeitshorter,she wouldofcoursebereturninglessvalueonhersubscribers'investment,since theyhadpaidinadvance.Ontheotherhand,ifshemadethepiecelonger,she couldbepaddingittogetmoreforhercopyrightfromthebooksellers.Given thisconflict,therewasnowayforhertosignalherdisinterestedintentions throughthelengthoftheworkalone.Hencethenecessityofaproseepic "AllWoveintoOne":Camilla,theProseEpic,andFamilyValues/279 formwhichemphasizedbothlargescopeandunity.Therangeofthework— its"multifariousness"—ensuredthathersubscriberswouldgettheirmoney's worth,foritismorethana"mere"novel.Andifallpartsofthenovelwerenecessarytothestoryasaunifiedwhole,Bumeymighthopetoavoidcharges ofpaddingCamillatoincreaseitsprofitability. SohowwasCamillatomeettheproseepic'stwindemandsofscopeand unity?Burney'sanswerwastofocusherworkonthefamilyandtheaffective connectionsthatbindthefamilytogether.Camillawasmorethan"amere lovestory"—thestoryofaromanticdyad—becauseitgrantedsignificant narrativespacetocharacterswhoinanothernovelmightserveonlyasback- ground:Camilla'ssiblingsEugeniaandLionel,hercousinsIndianaand ClermontLynmere,heruncleSirHugh,andherparents.Asthislistbeginsto suggest,thefamilyalsoprovidedBurneywithameanstoepicunity.Ona verybasiclevel,nearlyallCamilla'scentralcharacters—includingthero-manticpair—aremembersofasingleextendedfamily;theyandtheadven- turesinwhichtheyareinvolvedare"woveintoone"narrativebyvirtueof theirfamilyties.Infact,BurneyclearlyconceivedofCamillafromthebe- ginningprimarilyasafamilytale.Burney'searlynotesforthenovelidentify hersubjectas"AFamilybroughtupinaplain,oeconomical,industrious way,"27andwearefirstintroducedtoCamilla"[i]nthebosomofherrespect-ablefamily"(8).ThisemphasisisunusualforBurney,whoseotherheroines areallcutofffromfamily;herpredilectionfororphanprotagonistsmakes herdecisiontofocusonCamilla'sfamilyparticularlystriking.Theaffective tiesthatbindafamilytogetherformtheobjectivecorrelativeofBurney'sidealofunity.Ideallythefamily—liketheproseepic—isabulwarkagainst thealienatingcommodificationcharacteristicofthemarket.Inplaceoftheselfishcompetitivenessamongactorsinthemarketplace,itoffersaffective connection. II.MarketExcursions:Mr.DubsterandMrs.MittinBurney'sanxietiesaboutthecommodificationofaestheticandsocialspacearereflectedinthecentralityofthemercenarycharactersMr.Dubsterand Mrs.Mittin.Thesemerchants-turned-"gentlefolk"representtheincursions ofthemercantilemiddleclassintothegenteelworld,justasthenovel uncomfortablybroughtthetaintofthemarketintotherealmofartistic endeavor.Bothwereoriginallyproducersofluxuryfashionitemsforthe gentry—Mr.Dubsterwasawig-maker,andMrs.Mittinamilliner'sappren- tice—andthustheyaptlyrepresenttheboundarywheretheworldofthemarketplaceandthegenteelworldmeet.Theepisodesinwhichtheyappear emphasizethefragmentationofthesocialsceneandphysicallandscape 280/AUSTIN broughtaboutbythedominanceofmercantilevalues,andtheythusserveas foilstotheunityprovidedbyfamilyconnection.WhileBumeyattemptsto escapefromthemarketplacetoadisinterestedfamilialrealm,thesecharac- terstendinsteadtotransformiconsofgentilityintocommodities. Mr.Dubster'sestate,forexample,representsawhollycommodifiedspace, whichcontrastswithsuchgenuinelyaestheticundertakingsasBurney'swork. Emblematicbothofthevulgarityofhistasteandthepovertyofhisimagina- tionandmaterials,hisprojectsnonethelessaspiretogenteeltaste.Hispond,grotto,labyrinth,andsummerhouseallmimic,indegradedandminuteform...

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ISSN
1938-6133
Print ISSN
0360-2370
Pages
pp. 273-298
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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