Frances Burney "A Known Scribbler"
Frances Burney’s “A Known Scribbler” is an interesting way to present the life experiences of an individual. The fact that she includes: personal journal entries, letters written by her or addressed to her, reviews and personal stories make this work appear rich because of all the different perspectives. I like how Burney gives early journal accounts as a young girl. The journal entries appear to be typical of things a young person might say when attempting to record their thoughts in a journal. For example: “…I must confess my every thought, must open my whole Heart!” (Crump 53). Also, when she points out that “…I always write in it according to my real & undisguised thoughts—I always write in it according to the humour I am in…” (Crump 63). This demonstrates an eagerness and desire of a young person to honestly express their innermost thoughts and journal them for later review and reflection. Burney’s determination to do what she wants to do in life is evident early in her work. For example: “To unite myself for Life to a man who is not infinitely dear to me, is what I can never, never Consent to” (Crump 99-100). This indicates that Burney is willing to stand up for herself. The Reviews and discussions about Burney’s publication of “Evelina, or a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World” are interesting. Burney places great emphasis on not wanting people to know that it is her book and she is very pleased when she thinks that others will not discover that she is the author. “This was too much for me; I grinned irrestistably; & was obliged to look out at the shop Door till we came away” (Crump 152). However, even when others discover that Burney is the author of this novel, it actually is quite positive because this leads her to produce other books such as “Cecilia.” Her novel Evelina is described as “…a work that should result from long Experience & deep & intimate knowledge of the World; yet it has been written without either” (Crump 182). She wrote Tragedy “…about the middle of this August—90—The author [of Cecilia & Evelina [xxx] finished the rough first Draught & Copy of her first Tragedy” (Crump 257). It is interesting to learn what Mary Wollstonecraft says about Burney’s writing of “Camilla” …Camilla contains parts superiour to any thing she has yet produced” (Crump 286). Burney receives many complementary references about her writing. For example, ‘The Critical Review’ states: “The writer of Cecilia is not a common female, and we are confident the public will be gratified by hearing her sentiments on any subject to which she has turned her thoughts” (Crump 270). However, another work of hers “The Wanderer,” which in The Quarterly Review does not receive such positive comments. “The Wander has the identical features of Evelina—but Evelina grown old…” (Crump 311). The different opinions and ideas about her works make the novel interesting because of the different points of view.
Near the end of the novel in pp. 298-304, when she describes her breast operation, she uses very descriptive language and the subject matter is difficult to read about because of the graphic details of the operation. The personal pain that she describes is in some ways heart wrenching. Another part of her work that I find especially interesting is the account she provides in her struggle to survive when she is trapped during the storm (Crump 320-331). Her expressions and emotions in this life threatening situation are engaging.
It is also touching to read about the sorrow and grief that Burney experiences following her husband’s death. “…I will give this expansion to my feelings for a few minutes—a poor half hour---every Evening I pass alone, to unburthen the loaded heart from the weight of suppression during the long & heavy day.—(Crump 333-334). Burney is intriguing and the method that “A Known Scribbler” presents is a fascinating way to learn about the life of Frances Burney and her works.