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"I Suppose It Is Not Sentimental Enough!": Evelina and the Power of Feeling



法蘭希絲.伯妮(Frances Burney)的首部小說《依芙蓮娜》(Evelina)問世於十八世紀末的英國文壇並一鳴驚人,廣受讀者的歡迎。該小說對英國仕紳階級戲謔的批判以及對倫敦流行文化鉅細靡遺的描述常讓學者認為它只是一時尚儀態小說(a novel of manners)。本文從該小說十八世紀的讀者評價出發,探討其與當時文壇盛行的情感小說(sentimental fiction)的互動關係。作者解釋伯妮在《依芙蓮娜》中重新思考情感的價值與意義。當代著名的情感小說家亨利.麥肯齊(Henry Mackenzie)與勞倫斯.史騰(Lawrence Sterne)提倡情感的即刻性,認為性情中人著重的應是當下的自我情感享受,不受時間的考驗與記憶的約束。在此模式之下,情感逐漸演化成虛弱與自私的代名詞。伯妮在《依芙蓮娜》中改寫了當代盛行的情感模式,她認為情感真正的價值在於其能維繫長久的人際關係,能抵擋時光的洪流而歷久彌新,能帶給弱勢的女性希望與信心。以十八世紀情感小說的標準而言,伯妮的《依芙蓮娜》並不夠「傷感」,然而這正是作者的用意。伯妮希望塑造一個新的情感故事,一部讓讀者重新檢視感情力量的小說。

Parallel abstracts

Despite its dramatic description of weeping, fainting, nervous disorder and recovery of long-lost family members, Frances Burney's novel Evelina is traditionally regarded as a novel of manners and thus as a far cry from eighteenth-century sentimental fiction. The representation of feeling in this novel therefore is either dismissed as unimportant or subordinated to the discussion of propriety. This article argues that feeling in Evelina deserves critical scrutiny precisely because the novel is not sentimental enough. By comparing moments of intense emotion in Burney's novel and those in contemporary sentimental fiction, I would reveal Burney's disapproval and revision of the emotional paradigms popularized by sentimental novelists. While Laurence Sterne and Henry Mackenzie believe that to feel intensely means to feel spontaneously, privileging impulsive passion that fragments human interactions into moments of transport, Burney maintains that the virtue of feeling lies in its ability to cement interpersonal connections and to last through such desirable ties. This reading will refocus the issue of power in Evelina, not least by showing how and why feeling becomes an unexpected and unlikely source of power for both genders.

Parallel keywords

Frances Burney Evelina feeling sentimental fiction power


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