Northanger Abbey

Paperback | September 4, 2007

byJane Austen

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Northanger Abbey is both a perfectly aimed literary parody and a withering satire of the commercial aspects of marriage among the English gentry at the turn of the nineteenth century. But most of all, it is the story of the initiation into life of its naïve but sweetly appealing heroine, Catherine Morland, a willing victim of the contemporary craze for Gothic literature who is determined to see herself as the heroine of a dark and thrilling romance.

When Catherine is invited to Northanger Abbey, the grand though forbidding ancestral seat of her suitor, Henry Tilney, she finds herself embroiled in a real drama of misapprehension, mistreatment, and mortification, until common sense and humor—and a crucial clarification of Catherine’s financial status—puts all to right. Written in 1798 but not published until after Austen’s death in 1817, Northanger Abbey is characteristically clearheaded and strong, and infinitely subtle in its comedy.

From the Publisher

Northanger Abbey is both a perfectly aimed literary parody and a withering satire of the commercial aspects of marriage among the English gentry at the turn of the nineteenth century. But most of all, it is the story of the initiation into life of its naïve but sweetly appealing heroine, Catherine Morland, a willing victim of the contemporary craze for Gothic literature who is determined to see he...

From the Jacket

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

Jane Austen (1775—1817) was born in Hampshire, England, where she spent most of her life. Though she received little recognition in her lifetime, she came to be regarded as one of the great masters of the English novel.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8 × 5.16 × 0.54 inPublished:September 4, 2007Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:030738683X

ISBN - 13:9780307386830

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from To read apart from the others! Even though, this novel was the last to be published, this is actually the first complete novel that Jane Austen ever wrote. Here she depicts the life of Catherine Morland, the daughter of a clergyman and who comes from a large family, who is neither immensely rich nor highly intelligent and her stay in Bath with some family friends, where she encounters love in the person of Henry Tilney. But although his father seems at first to approve the match, a misunderstanding comes to change his mind, misunderstanding that must be clarified in order for Catherine to achieve marital bliss. Of all her heroines, I find that Jane Austen draws more of her own family situation to depict Catherine that she actually did for the others: daughter of a clergyman, numerous family, tight family relationships... As it was her first novel, I also find it to be the weakest of her work, as you can almost feel the author questioning herself as to what makes a great novel: what subjects, what character traits, what heroine or gentleman? The story in itself is also pretty simple as it is imitates a little bit the structure of Vaudeville theater, with the misunderstandings regarding Catherine’s financial status, her acquaintance with John Thorpe or her brother’s engagement to Isabella. The author also pays tribute to her admiration for Ann Radcliffe by making one of her novels Catherine’s favorite books and putting a little Gothic spin to the story when it comes to the description of Northanger Abbey. All in all, this first novel remains a well-plotted hodgepodge as well as an entertaining light story. For more about this book and many more, visit my blog at : ladybugandotherbookworms.blogspot.com
Date published: 2013-06-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from One of my favourites by Austen 17-year old Catherine has gone to visit friends, Mr. and Mrs. Allen, in Bath. While there, she meets Isabelle and Miss Tilney, who will also become friends,. Miss Tilney has a handsome borther, who catches Catherine's eye, though Isabelle's brother is also interested in Catherine. I really liked this one. I liked Catherine and Mr. Tilney, in particular, and I loved their banter! I thought it got even more interesting in the last 1/3 of the book, when Catherine came to Northanger Abbey, the Tilney's home. I especially enjoyed Mr. Tilney's description of the house and Catherine's first couple of nights there. So far, this is one of my favourites by Austen.
Date published: 2011-07-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome! I am a big fan of Jane Austen. I felt like I could relate to this character with having her imagination run wild. I appreciated the read even though it was not one of Austen's most famous
Date published: 2011-05-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A lighthearted novel with a satiric twist spent most of the story wishing to dance with the witty Henry Tilney, slap the artful and manipulative Isabella, lose my temper with the deceitful John, and give Catherine Morland a good shake to knock some sense into her. That said, any book that can drag me into the characters' lives as Northanger Abbey did is praiseworthy. It's an easy read once you get the hang of the language. I really enjoyed Austen's tongue-in-cheek lambasting of novelists whose heroines never read novels - "Yes, novels; for I will not adopt that ingenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel-writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding-joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust." Her derision for the flights of fancy of the Gothic novelists of the day are readily apparent throughout the novel. Catherine imagines herself in romantic, mysterious situations (found in her favorite novel, Udolpho), as when she first thinks of her upcoming visit to the Abbey: "To see and explore either the ramparts and keep of the one, or the cloisters of the other, had been for many weeks a darling wish, though to be more than the visitor of an hour had seemed too nearly impossible for desire." Yet when she arrives she is disappointed in its modernity and normalcy - something that wouldn't be tolerated in a Gothic tale! If the ends of books are like desserts, then the end of Northanger Abbey could be compared to Jell-O rather than Cherries Jubilee, but the readers should focus on the meat and potatoes instead. All in all, an enjoyable read.
Date published: 2009-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favorite Jane Austen! Much more funny and witty than the other Jane Austen novels - definitely my favorite. A very easy read compared with some of her other novels, and the characters as wonderfully well-written. You can't help but feel very disappointed when you realize you're nearing the end of the book.
Date published: 2008-04-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not For Me I have recently wanted to read Jane Austen again for some time. I had previously read two of her other novels (Pride and Prejudice and Emma) but that was a very long time ago. I've now decided I am not a Jane Austen fan. This is a rather average romance story which is said to be a parody of the classic Gothic novels. The plot (what there was of it) was decent enough but I just felt like I was wading through pages of drivel. I found the dialogue irritating, the banter between the men and women just made me want to scream. Although the style of writing and the language used by the author is indeed beautiful I found the characters immensely irritating. Austen is not for me.
Date published: 2007-11-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Classic! A naive 17 year old, Catherine Morland, is invited to stay with wealthy friends of her family in Bath. She quickly falls in love with Henry Tilney and befriends Isabella Thorpe who is engaged to her brother. Isabella falls in love with another man leaving her brother brokenhearted and ending their close friendship. Catherine learns a great deal about herself and others while expressing her wild imagination at Northanger Abbey. Although it may not be as mysterious and compelling as "Wuthering Heights", it is worth a glance. Like all Jane Austen's novels, this is a coming of age story full of romance, balls, broken relationships and misunderstandings. It is an essential addition to any Austen collection.
Date published: 2006-07-13

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Read from the Book

Chapter INo one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her. Her father was a clergyman, without being neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard—and he had never been handsome. He had a considerable independence, besides two good livings—and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters. Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with a good constitution. She had three sons before Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as any body might expect, she still lived on—lived to have six children more—to see them growing up around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself. A family of ten children will be always called a fine family, where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the number; but the Morlands had little other right to the word, for they were in general very plain, and Catherine, for many years of her life, as plain as any. She had a thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, dark lank hair, and strong features;—so much for her person;—and not less unpropitious for heroism seemed her mind. She was fond of all boys’ plays, and greatly preferred cricket not merely to dolls, but to the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush. Indeed she had no taste for a garden; and if she gathered flowers at all, it was chiefly for the pleasure of mischief—at least so it was conjectured from her always preferring those which she was forbidden to take.—Such were her propensities—her abilities were quite as extraordinary. She never could learn or understand any thing before she was taught; and sometimes not even then, for she was often inattentive, and occasionally stupid. Her mother was three months in teaching her only to repeat the “Beggar’s Petition;” and after all, her next sister, Sally, could say it better than she did. Not that Catherine was always stupid,—by no means; she learnt the fable of “The Hare and many Friends,” as quickly as any girl in England. Her mother wished her to learn music; and Catherine was sure she should like it, for she was very fond of tinkling the keys of the old forlorn spinnet; so, at eight years old she began. She learnt a year, and could not bear it;—and Mrs. Morland, who did not insist on her daughters being accomplished in spite of incapacity or distaste, allowed her to leave off. The day which dismissed the music-master was one of the happiest of Catherine’s life. Her taste for drawing was not superior; though whenever she could obtain the outside of a letter from her mother, or seize upon any other odd piece of paper, she did what she could in that way, by drawing houses and trees, hens and chickens, all very much like one another.—Writing and accounts she was taught by her father; French by her mother: her proficiency in either was not remarkable, and she shirked her lessons in both whenever she could. What a strange, unaccountable character!—for with all these symptoms of profligacy at ten years old, she had neither a bad heart nor a bad temper; was seldom stubborn, scarcely ever quarrelsome, and very kind to the little ones, with few interruptions of tyranny; she was moreover noisy and wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing so well in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house.Such was Catherine Morland at ten. At fifteen, appearances were mending; she began to curl her hair and long for balls; her complexion improved, her features were softened by plumpness and colour, her eyes gained more animation, and her figure more consequence. Her love of dirt gave way to an inclination for finery, and she grew clean as she grew smart; she had now the pleasure of sometimes hearing her father and mother remark on her personal improvement. “Catherine grows quite a good-looking girl,—she is almost pretty to day,” were words which caught her ears now and then; and how welcome were the sounds! To look almost pretty, is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life, than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children every thing they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books—or at least books of information—for, provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they were all story and no reflection, she had never any objection to books at all. But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for a heroine; she read all such works as heroines must read to supply their memories with those quotations which are so serviceable and so soothing in the vicissitudes of their eventful lives.From Pope, she learnt to censure those who“bear about the mockery of woe.”From Gray, that“Many a flower is born to blush unseen, “And waste its fragrance on the desert air.”From Thompson, that——“It is a delightful task “To teach the young idea how to shoot.”And from Shakspeare she gained a great store of information—amongst the rest, that———“Trifles light as air, “Are, to the jealous, confirmation strong, “As proofs of Holy Writ.”That “The poor beetle, which we tread upon, “In corporal sufferance feels a pang as great “As when a giant dies.”And that a young woman in love always looks ——“like Patience on a monument “Smiling at Grief.”So far her improvement was sufficient—and in many other points she came on exceedingly well; for though she could not write sonnets, she brought herself to read them; and though there seemed no chance of her throwing a whole party into raptures by a prelude on the pianoforte, of her own composition, she could listen to other people’s performance with very little fatigue. Her greatest deficiency was in the pencil—she had no notion of drawing—not enough even to attempt a sketch of her lover’s profile, that she might be detected in the design. There she fell miserably short of the true heroic height. At present she did not know her own poverty, for she had no lover to pourtray. She had reached the age of seventeen, without having seen one amiable youth who could call forth her sensibility; without having excited one real passion, and without having excited even any admiration but what was very moderate and very transient. This was strange indeed! But strange things may be generally accounted for if their cause be fairly searched out. There was not one lord in the neighbourhood; no—not even a baronet. There was not one family among their acquaintance who had reared and supported a boy accidentally found at their door—not one young man whose origin was unknown. Her father had no ward, and the squire of the parish no children.But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way.Mr. Allen, who owned the chief of the property about Fuller- ton, the village in Wiltshire where the Morlands lived, was ordered to Bath for the benefit of a gouty constitution;—and his lady, a good- humoured woman, fond of Miss Morland, and probably aware that if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad, invited her to go with them. Mr. and Mrs. Morland were all compliance, and Catherine all happiness.