‘Dancing in Fanny Burney’s Evelina’

(1814). Burney’s own background in a highly musical family gives an added importance to music in her narrative, used in such scenes as the visit to Ranelagh, and she has a clear understanding of the social situations created by dance. Evelina’s experience of the conventions and social mores of private ball, for example, form one of the set pieces of the first volume.

Unlike the narratives of other authors where dance plays a pivotal role, however, Burney’s tale is epistolary, allowing a very particular relationship to develop between the reader and the narrator. This paper explores this relationship, asking what can be deduced about the particular role dance plays in the humour and satire of the novel.

Michael Burden