0250 | Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen


Context: finished this on my way down to Tesco’s to get myself some shopping.

Yet another Austen and, as I suspected, they’re starting to take on much of a muchness now. Catherine, the heroine of choice this time, is about the most naive and susceptible I’ve followed so far. There are all the usual misunderstandings about love and relationships, and it all turns out the same and ends in the inevitable marriage. In fact, this one seems not to be heading to that conclusion until about the last two pages. It’s a bit like Austen suddenly got bored of writing it.

I’m not going to say much about it, as there’s not much to say. The only thing of vague interest to me was that there was a bit of debate about novels and their role in our lives. There are arguments that novels inspire fantasy to the extreme that they deprive us of our ability to be rational and realistic. I don’t think that’s the fault of novels but perhaps the spirit they’re read in.

Er… that’s it.

No one who ever had seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine.

To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen, is to do pretty well; and professing myself moreover convinced, that the General’s unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.


Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement
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  1. Wasn’t Northanger her first novel? I felt the same way you did when I read it, until I realized it was the first thing she’d written. It’s great to track her evolution as a novelist from Northanger to Persuasion (personal favorite). I love Jane Austen- I think it’s hilarious that she felt the need to write a book in order to say, hey, novels aren’t so bad.

  2. yeah… possibly not the most logical medium to refute claims that novels were worthless!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northanger_Abbey says that although it was the first to be completed for publication, it was published posthumously and she’d already begun Sense and Pride by the time she finished it. I’m not entirely sure why she bothered if she had already started those two which are far superior.

  3. There’s not much to say? Oh dear, we Jane Austen fans would not see it that way. This is, in many ways, quite different from her other novels. In fact, I think if you look closely, each novel is quite different. Sure, they are all romances in a way but in each one there is quite a different heroine. The really fun thing about NA is that Catherine is her youngest heroine by quite a few years and she LOVES Gothic novels. Some see this novel is JA’s spoof on Gothic novels (and the opening which talks about Catherine’s unlikeliness as a heroine can suggest that) which were all the rage at the time but others of us see it more as a spoof on the readers of Gothic novels. Catherine is young and impressionable – but fortunately has a good head on her shoulders despite that. John Thorpe – the “villain” – is a wonderful rendition of the teenage boy showing of his car, oops cart (or carriage, whatever!). But, I’ll stop here … for fear of boring you and your readers.

  4. [quote comment=”19486″] But, I’ll stop [describing Northanger Abbey’s storyline] here … for fear of boring you and your readers.[/quote]
    you said it 😉

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