Although critics who focus on Burney as a revolutionary writer tend to ignore Camilla, I argue that Camilla is no less bold in its social commentary than Burney's other writings. This article looks beyond overt references to discover implicit social critique in Camilla as it appears through repeated misinterpretations and wrong assumptions by those who observe in the novel. As a result, Burney destabilizes acts of interpretation, both for characters who attempt to read others within the novel and for readers attempting to read the novel itself. This essay considers the ways that Camilla instead occupies an important place in the story of the realist novel's development. Burney joins those voices in the 1790s that decried the sense of infallible omniscience that arose from the combination of revolutionary fervor and empirical science. As an antidote to this confidence, Burney incorporates the epistemological instability into her novel that will come to characterize the realist novel by the nineteenth century.


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pp. 315-335
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