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Northanger Abbey

by Jane Austen

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About Book

Though Northanger Abbey is one of Jane Austen's earliest novels, it was not published until after her death--well after she'd established her reputation with works such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility. Of all her novels, this one is the most explicitly literary in that it is primarily concerned with books and with readers. In it, Austen skewers the novelistic excesses of her day made popular in such 18th-century Gothic potboilers as Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho. Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers all figure into Northanger Abbey, but with a decidedly satirical twist. Consider Austen's introduction of her heroine: we are told on the very first page that "no one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine." The author goes on to explain that Miss Morland's father is a clergyman with "a considerable independence, besides two good livings--and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters." Furthermore, her mother does not die giving birth to her, and Catherine herself, far from engaging in "the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush" vastly prefers playing cricket with her brothers to any girlish pastimes.

Catherine grows up to be a passably pretty girl and is invited to spend a few weeks in Bath with a family friend. While there she meets Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor, who invite her to visit their family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Austen amuses herself and us as Catherine, a great reader of Gothic romances, allows her imagination to run wild, finding dreadful portents in the most wonderfully prosaic events. But Austen is after something more than mere parody; she uses her rapier wit to mock not only the essential silliness of "horrid" novels, but to expose the even more horrid workings of polite society, for nothing Catherine imagines could possibly rival the hypocrisy she experiences at the hands of her supposed friends. In many respects Northanger Abbey is the most lighthearted of Jane Austen's novels, yet at its core is a serious, unsentimental commentary on love and marriage, 19th-century British style. --Alix Wilber

From Library Journal
Austen is the hot property of the entertainment world with new feature film versions of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility on the silver screen and Pride and Prejudice hitting the TV airwaves on PBS. Such high visibility will inevitably draw renewed interest in the original source materials. These new Modern Library editions offer quality hardcovers at affordable prices.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From AudioFile
Although published after her death, Northanger Abbey is one of Jane Austen's first novels. Like Don Quixote, it satirizes a popular literary genre of the day and draws distinctions between reality and illusion. Whereas Cervantes's novel took on a life--an archetypal one, in fact--independent of its original joke, Austen's novel suffers without at least a nodding acquaintance with the Gothic novels of Ann Radcliffe. A sheltered young woman mistakes relatively innocent actions for the sinister clues she reads about. A comedy of errors, of course, ensues. Academy Award-winner Glenda Jackson does an admirable job, particularly with Austen's memorable characterizations. Her touch is perhaps a bit too heavy for the aery narrative. But finding just the right tone for this author has eluded many a fine actor. Y.R. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine

Nicholas Roe, University of St. Andrews
The text is a model of clarity, and the annotation is consistently helpful and lucid...

Claudia L. Johnson, Princeton University
An exemplary edition!

?Jane Austen is the Rosetta stone of literature.? ?Anna Quindlen

Book Description
One of the first of Jane Austen's novels to be written, and one of the last to be published, Northanger Abbey is both an amusing story of how a naive girl enters society and wins the affection of a witty young clergyman, and a high-spirited parody of the lurid Gothic novels that were popular during Austen's youth. In the process it features a vivid account of social life in late eighteenth-century Bath, and Austen's famous defence of the novel as a literary form. This edition, based on the text of the novel as published posthumously in 1818, is accompanied by explanatory notes, and an appendix summarising the plots and situations of the Gothic fictions that form the basis of much of Austen's comedy. In addition there is an extensive critical introduction covering the context, publication, and critical history of the novel, a chronology of Austen's life, and authoritative textual apparatus.

Download Description
Fans of Jane Austen will delight in this engaging, lesser-known work.

The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Novel by Jane Austen, published posthumously in 1817. Northanger Abbey, which was published with Persuasion in four volumes, was written about 1798 or 1799, probably under the title "Susan." In 1803 the manuscript of "Susan" was sold to the publisher Richard Crosby, who advertised for it, but unaccountably it was not published at that time. The novel combines a satire on conventional novels of polite society with one on gothic tales of terror. Catherine Morland, the daughter of a country parson, is the innocent abroad who gains worldly wisdom: first in the fashionable society of Bath and then at Northanger Abbey itself, where she learns not to interpret the world through her reading of gothic thrillers.

From the Publisher
This book is a large print version using a minimum of 16 point type in a 6 by 9 inch size and library bound. As with all Quiet Vision print books, it use a high grade, acid free paper for long life.

Inside Flap Copy
Jane Austen?s first novel, Northanger Abbey?published posthumously in 1818?tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen?s fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature. The satirical Northanger Abbey pokes fun at the gothic novel while earnestly emphasizing caution to the female sex.

This Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the first edition of 1818.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover
“Jane Austen is the Rosetta stone of literature.” —Anna Quindlen

About the Author
Barbara M. Benedict is Charles A. Dana Professor of English Literature at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut. Deirdre Le Faye is the editor of Jane Austen’s letters and of A Family Record. She is the author of A Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family (Cambridge, 2006).



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