October 02, 2013

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen


Northanger Abbey is certainly less famous than other Jane Austen novels like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. But it is not less fun or charming. It has all that good Austen stuff: despicable villains, exciting balls and, of course, a dashing hero.

To be honest, it took me longer than I expected to finish this book. Probably because the book tries to criticize and make fun of Gothic literature, which was in vogue at the time. I have the feeling that I miss out on a lot when it comes to satires because I don't fully understand what is being criticized. I’m not familiar with Gothic literature and much less with the hype surrounding it in Austen’s time.

Nonetheless, Austen presents the paradox of cute, delicate young girls enjoying horror stories in a very funny way. In a dialogue between Isabella and Catherine, the former says she has prepared a list of Gothic novels for them to read together:

- I have made a list of ten or twelve [novels] of the same kind for you.
- But are they all horrid, are you sure, they are all horrid?
- Yes, quite sure; for a particular friend of mine, a Miss Andrews, a sweet girl, one of the sweetest creatures in the world, has read every one of them.

Apparently, our teenagers that love gory horror movies like Saw are quite similar to 19th century readers of Gothic literature.

But don't let this stop you from reading Northanger Abbey. Mr. Tilney makes it all worthwhile. 

I liked him a lot, maybe even more than the protagonists from other novels. (Of course I'm referring to you, Mr. Darcy.) 

Northanger’s hero, Mr. Tilney, knows how to play it cool. He is mysterious, smooth, don’t overreact when the heroin is rude or acts crazy. He likes the same things she does, but knows how to joke around as well.


He even warns Catherine of the danger of being obsessed with all things Gothic. I wonder what Jane Austen herself would think of the current obsession with all things Jane Austen.

Have you read/watched Northanger Abbey? 

(I haven't watched the Tv movie where the pictures above come from, but I was stupid enough to go watch Austenland. Word of the wise: just because the movie has a British actor in it, that doesn't  mean it's good.)

Images: 1/2 and 3 (though lame Photoshop was all me) 

2 comments:

  1. Sadly, I haven't seen the TV movie or Austenland. Your awesome review has sparked an urge to reread it.
    Here's a free ebook copy from Project Gutenberg if anybody else is interested: www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/121

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  2. Thanks for the link, Angela. I'm always using Project Gutenberg, it's such a great resource.

    I got excited about the Northanger Abbey movie and am planning on watching it this weekend. I don't really recommend Austenland, but in case you see it, let me know what you think! xx

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