Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen. Novel.

New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1818.

Why read it? A satire based on Ann Radcliffe’s novel Mysteries of Udopho. Mistaken as wealthy, Catherine Morland is invited to Northanger Abbey by the dictatorial father of Henry Tilman, a young clergyman. Dismissed from the Abbey by the same dictatorial father when he learns that Catherine is not wealthy, Catherine is followed by Henry who asks her to marry him. In between she has seen Northanger Abbey as the nightmarish experience she has imagined from reading Radcliffe’s novel.

Sample quotes:

“…in her own hearing, two gentlemen pronounced her to be a pretty girl and such words had their due effect; she immediately thought the evening pleasanter than she had found it before—her humble vanity was contented—she felt more obliged to the two young men for this simple praise than a true quality heroine would have been for fifteen sonnets in celebration of her charms.” p. 24.

“Not keep a journal! How are your absent cousins to understand the tenor of your life without one; how are the civilities and compliments of every day to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every evening in a journal; how are your various dresses to be remembered, and the particular state of your complexion, and curl of your hair to be described in all their diversities, without having constant resource to a journal. It is this delightful habit of journalizing which largely contributes to form the easy style of writing for which ladies are so generally celebrated; everybody allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female; nature may have done something, but I am sure it must be essentially assisted by the practice of keeping a journal.” p. 27.

“…for a fine Sunday in Bath empties every house of its inhabitant, and all the world appears on such an occasion to walk about and tell their acquaintance what a charming day it is.” p. 35. ………. “But the merit of the curricle did not all belong to the horses; Henry drove so well, so quietly, without making any disturbance, without parading to her, or swearing at them and then his hat sat so well, and the innumerable capes of his greatcoat looked so becomingly important. To be driven by him, next to being dancing with him, was certainly the greatest happiness in the world.” p. 157.

“The very curtains of her bed seemed at one moment in motion, and at another the lock of her door was agitated, as if by the attempt to somebody to enter.” p. 171.

Comment: And thus Catherine Morland imagines everything that can happen to a poor, defenseless girl when living in a Gothic mansion in a Gothic novel. Once again, you will see how well Austen can describe vividly the character of the people around her. This novel is a lot of fun. RayS.

No comments:

Post a Comment