What is your impression of Burney's experience the party in her letter to Mrs. Phillips, her sister?  

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In The Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arblay (Frances Burney) the famous French authoress also known publicly as "Fanny Burney", she dedicates a number of letters to her sister, Mrs. Phillips where she relates the different instances in society.

The party to which your question refers happens in February, 1782. In this rout, Mrs. Paradise, the hostess, basically prances Fanny around a group of high society ladies who are fascinated by her being a writer, albeit, an extremely talented one. A particular point of interest is when Mrs. Paradise tells Fanny how Lady "this" and Madame "that" , as well as Mrs. Paradise's own sister, have also attempted and indeed have completed novels and pieces of literature "much like her very own (Fanny's), but not as sophisticated, or elegant, etc."

Much to Fanny's surprise it seems, Mrs. Paradise basically has the gall to call these ladies Fanny's "sister authoresses". Moreover, Mrs. Paradise adds pain to the wound by consistently complementing the works of the other ladies, insisting that they are "very much like Fanny's".

This incident must have left a dent on Fanny's psyche, for she specifically mentions the "sister authoresses" with slight sarcasm and further mentions

What unfeeling things are my sisters!I am sure I never heard them go around praising Me!

Therefore, Fanny Burney's personality follows the traditions of George Sand, Jane Austen, the Brontes and many other female authoresses who admit how entering the society of the aristocrats is a necessity to establish a form of credibility and popularity, albeit, they do these appearances against their will. They all understand society and print its mannerisms. It must have been torture for Fanny to be compared to shallow and somewhat ignorant peers.


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