Northanger Abbey

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Catherine Morland is an excitable young woman enraptured by the imaginary romantic worlds of mystery and intrigue in the gothic novels she consumes voraciously in her country cottage home. She is invited to Bath for the Season and thrills at the prospect of fashionable gowns and flirtacious encounters with handsome young men. At first her fanciful notions are fulfilled but soon they lead her to blur the lines between imagination and the everyday. She is invited to Northanger Abbey where she endures a series of romantic and ...

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ZEDSREVIEW

Oct 11, 2009

Satire of Romance Novels

I had not thought of Austen as a satirist prior to reading Northanger Abbey. Within the first chapter the author addresses what the book is not ? a gothic romance, thought it is fashioned similarly, and named similarly. Austen points out the heroine?s father did not lock up his daughters, there was no lover of unknown origin, (something Emily Bronte uses years later in Wuthering Heights), and the heroine?s mother does not warn her of the seduction of barons. Rather, when the teenage heroine, Catherine Morland, leaves for a resort town to stay with neighbors, everything is done ?with a degree of moderation and composure, which seemed rather consistent with the common feelings of common life...? 6. With the contrasts Austen makes to the typical gothic romance she conveys the message that life is not like the popular novel.

Austen makes some straight forward comments in Northanger Abbey, without irony. Throughout the book she comments on novels, a rather new and popular form in the late 18th century. The novel, evidently, was looked down on, but was also a guilty pleasure. A person would suggest reading Milton or Pope or Addison, but would condemn books by Anne Radcliffe. Even novelists would do this. But Austen, as narrator, would not. She does, however, illustrate problems for those who read such novels, as the character Catherine experiences. Catherine is disappointed that Northanger Abbey isn?t ancient nor dark nor in ruins. She is terribly mistaken in her perception of General Tilney, suspecting he has imprisoned his wife in the Abbey, based on what she had read in novels. I?m not sure if all statements of judgment are ironic or not.

The satire is strong only in a few chapters of the book. Otherwise it is something of the standard Austen work, with characters pairing up according to society?s expectations, then finding out they are mismatched. Though no one may expect Catherine to be a heroine, she is a very good character, practical, sociable, yet refraining from coquetry, earnest. The book tells of her maturation through the age of courtship.

Corgi

Mar 9, 2009

Austen's least important book

Wouldn't it be great for one's least work to still be a joy forever?

This is Austen's throw-away. It's the shortest, it's the least fated love, and the heroine is the only one who isn't fully identified with Austen and the reader.

Catherine is a very ordinary girl, not especially bright or mature, but warm-hearted and a little bit pretty.

As she enters "society" on a visit to Bath with family friends, Catherine's expectations of life are skewed by the vice of novel-reading. Her flaw is romanticism.

This is what Austen has fun with, and why this least romantic of her romances is still so enjoyable.

Momx3

Dec 25, 2008

Great Classic

Jane Austen is one of our favorite authors. This book is one of her best.

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