Northanger Abbey (Paperback)
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Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen's novels to be completed for publication, in 1803. However, it was not published until after her death in 1817, along with another novel of hers, Persuasion. 1] Northanger Abbey is a satire of Gothic novels, which were quite popular at the time, in 1798-99. 1] This coming-of-age story revolves around Catherine Morland, a young and na ve "heroine," who entertains the reader on her journey to a better understanding of the world and those around her. 2] In the course of the novel, she discovers that she differs from those other women who crave wealth or social acceptance, as instead she wishes only to have happiness supported by genuine morality. 3] Austen first titled the novel Susan, when she sold it in 1803 for 10 to a London bookseller, Crosby & Co.. This publisher did not print the work but held on to the manuscript. 1] Austen reportedly threatened to take her work back from them, but Crosby & Co responded that she would face legal consequences for reclaiming her text. 4] In the spring of 1816, the bookseller sold it back to the novelist's brother, Henry Austen, for the same sum as he had paid for it. There is evidence that Austen further revised the novel in 1816-1817 with the intention of having it published. Austen rewrote sections, renaming the main character Catherine and using that as her working title. After her death, Austen's brother Henry gave the novel its final name and arranged for publication of Northanger Abbey in late December 1817 (1818 given on the title page), as the first two volumes of a four-volume set, with a preface for the first time publicly identifying Jane Austen as the author of all her novels. Neither "Northanger Abbey" nor "Persuasion" was published under the working title Jane Austen used. Aside from first being published together, the two novels are not connected; later editions were published separately. Seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland is one of ten children of a country clergyman. Although a tomboy in her childhood, by the age of 17 she is "in training for a heroine" and is excessively fond of reading Gothic novels, among which Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho is a favourite. Catherine is invited by the Allens, her wealthier neighbours in Fullerton, to accompany them to visit the town of Bath and partake in the winter season of balls, theatre and other social delights. She is soon introduced to a clever young gentleman, Henry Tilney, with whom she dances and converses. Through Mrs. Allen's old schoolfriend Mrs. Thorpe, she meets her daughter Isabella, a vivacious and flirtatious young woman, and the two quickly become friends. Mrs. Thorpe's son John is also a friend of Catherine's older brother, James, at Oxford where they are both students. The Thorpes are not happy about Catherine's friendship with the Tilneys, as they correctly perceive Henry as a rival for Catherine's affections, though Catherine is not at all interested in the crude John Thorpe. Catherine tries to maintain her friendships with both the Thorpes and the Tilneys, though John Thorpe continuously tries to sabotage her relationship with the Tilneys. This leads to several misunderstandings, which put Catherine Morland in the awkward position of having to explain herself to the Tilneys. Isabella and James become engaged. James' father approves of the match and offers his son a country parson's living of a modest sum, 400 annually, but they must wait until he can obtain the benefice in two and a half years. Isabella is dissatisfied, but to Catherine Morland she misrepresents her distress as being caused solely by the delay, and not by the value of the sum. Isabella immediately begins to flirt with Captain Tilney, Henry's older brother. Innocent Catherine cannot understand her friend's behaviour, but Henry understands all too well, as he knows his brother's character and habits.
About the Author
Jane Austen (16 December 1775 - 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Her realism, bitingirony and social commentary have gained her historical importance among scholars and critics.