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Showing posts from February, 2014

Austen 2014: Northanger Abbey, Volume 2 and Wrap-Up

N.B.--As this is my final post on Northanger Abbey, the entire novel is fair game, so be warned: spoilers ahead for those of you who may not have finished.

Well, that was charming, wasn't it?

That may sound like damning with faint praise, but a charming novel--especially one that doesn't wear out its welcome--is not something to be underestimated. It's certainly not Austen's densest or most complicated work, but it's no less enjoyable for being relatively simple and straightforward. Indeed, Catherine meets Henry almost immediately, and, save for the ham-fisted interference of the odious John Thorpe, no real obstacle to their eventual union presents itself until the very end, at which point, as even the author concedes shortly thereafter in a different context, there are too few pages left in the book to believe the General's interference will long prevent Catherine and Henry's engagement. Moreover, the relative lack of side characters (there are really only…

Austen 2014: Northanger Abbey, Volume 1

N.B.--I will only be writing here about the first volume of Northanger Abbey, which concludes with Chapter 15, dealing with James and Isabella's engagement. While knowledge of the novel's resolution may inform my writing, I will try not to give away pertinent plot details unless unavoidable.

 The tone of each of Jane Austen's novels, I feel, can be graphed using three main co-ordinates: the characters of the heroine, the hero, and the heroine's confidante. Now, of course, this oversimplifies the situation, as Austen is far too complex and subtle an author to be graphed using any number of co-ordinates, but it's useful for comparison. For example, in Pride & Prejudice, it is the relationships that Elizabeth has with Darcy and her sister Jane, and, indeed, Darcy's assessment of Jane, that define much of how the novel progresses. In Sense & Sensibility, the structure is complicated by essentially having co-heroines, but that just makes the importance of th…