Northanger Abbey

Paperback | April 29, 2003

byJane AustenIntroduction byMarilyn ButlerEditorMarilyn Butler

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Austen's witty exploration of the perils of mistaking fiction for reality

During an eventful season at Bath, young, naïve Catherine Morland experiences the joys of fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who shares Catherine's love of Gothic romance and horror, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father's mysterious house, Northanger Abbey. There, her imagination influenced by novels of sensation and intrigue, Catherine imagines terrible crimes committed by General Tilney. With its broad comedy and irrepressible heroine, this is the most youthful and and optimistic of Jane Austen's works.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

From the Publisher

Austen's witty exploration of the perils of mistaking fiction for realityDuring an eventful season at Bath, young, naïve Catherine Morland experiences the joys of fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who shares Catherine's love of Gothic romance and horror, and sophi...

From the Jacket

During an eventful season at Bath, young, naive Catherine Morland experiences the joys of fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who shares Catherine’s love of Gothic romance and horror, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father’s myste...

JANE AUSTEN (1775-1817) was extremely modest about her own genius but has become one of English literature's most famous women writers. She is the author of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park. MARILYN BUTLER is rector of Exeter College, Oxford. She has also edited Maria Edgeworth's Castle R...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 7.77 × 5.05 × 0.75 inPublished:April 29, 2003Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0141439793

ISBN - 13:9780141439792

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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 :
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

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Chapter 1No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy wouldhave supposed her born to be an heroine. Her situation in life, thecharacter of her father and mother; her own person and disposition,were all equally against her. Her father was a clergyman, withoutbeing neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, thoughhis name was Richard—and he had never been handsome. He had aconsiderable independence besides two good livings—and he wasnot in the least addicted to locking up his daughters. Her motherwas a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, whatis more remarkable, with a good constitution. She had three sonsbefore Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing thelatter into the world, as anybody might expect, she still livedon—lived to have six children more—to see them growing uparound her, and to enjoy excellent health herself. A family often children will be always called a fine family, where there areheads and arms and legs enough for the number; but the Morlandshad little other right to the word, for they were in general veryplain, and Catherine, for many years of her life, as plain as any.She had a thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, darklank hair, and strong features;—so much for her person; —and notless unpropitious for heroism seemed her mind. She was fond ofall boy's 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 notaste for a garden; and if she gathered flowers at all, it was chieflyfor the pleasure of mischief—at least so it was conjectured fromher always preferring those which she was forbidden to take. —Suchwere her propensities—her abilities were quite as extraordinary.She never could learn or understand anything before she was taught;and sometimes not even then, for she was often inattentive, andoccasionally stupid. Her mother was three months in teaching heronly to repeat the "Beggar's Petition"; and after all, her nextsister, Sally, could say it better than she did. Not that Catherinewas always stupid, —by no means; she learnt the fable of "The Hareand Many Friends" as quickly as any girl in England. Her motherwished her to learn music; and Catherine was sure she should likeit, for she was very fond of tinkling the keys of the old forlornspinner; so, at eight years old she began. She learnt a year,and could not bear it; —and Mrs. Morland, who did not insist on herdaughters being accomplished in spite of incapacity or distaste,allowed her to leave off. The day which dismissed the music-masterwas one of the happiest of Catherine's life. Her taste for drawingwas not superior; though whenever she could obtain the outside ofa 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 andaccounts she was taught by her father; French by her mother: herproficiency in either was not remarkable, and she shirked herlessons in both whenever she could. What a strange, unaccountablecharacter!—for with all these symptoms of profligacy at tenyears old, she had neither a bad heart nor a bad temper, was seldomstubborn, scarcely ever quarrelsome, and very kind to the littleones, with few interruptions of tyranny; she was moreover noisyand wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing sowell in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back ofthe house.Such was Catherine Morland at ten. At fifteen, appearances weremending; she began to curl her hair and long for balls; her complexionimproved, her features were softened by plumpness and colour, hereyes gained more animation, and her figure more consequence. Herlove of dirt gave way to an inclination for finery, and she grewclean as she grew smart; she had now the pleasure of sometimeshearing her father and mother remark on her personal improvement."Catherine grows quite a good-looking girl—she is almost prettytoday," were words which caught her ears now and then; and howwelcome were the sounds! To look almost pretty is an acquisitionof higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the firstfifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can everreceive.Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her childreneverything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied inlying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughterswere inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not verywonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic abouther, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, andrunning about the country at the age of fourteen, to books—orat least books of information—for, provided that nothing likeuseful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they wereall story and no reflection, she had never any objection to booksat all. But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for aheroine; she read all such works as heroines must read to supplytheir memories with those quotations which are so serviceable andso 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 Shakespeare 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 shecame on exceedingly well; for though she could not write sonnets,she brought herself to read them; and though there seemed nochance of her throwing a whole party into raptures by a prelude onthe pianoforte, of her own composition, she could listen to otherpeople's performance with very little fatigue. Her greatestdeficiency was in the pencil—she had no notion of drawing—not enough even to attempt a sketch of her lover's profile, thatshe might be detected in the design. There she fell miserablyshort of the true heroic height. At present she did not know herown poverty, for she had no lover to portray. She had reached theage of seventeen, without having seen one amiable youth who couldcall forth her sensibility, without having inspired one real passion,and without having excited even any admiration but what was verymoderate and very transient. This was strange indeed! But strangethings may be generally accounted for if their cause be fairlysearched out. There was not one lord in the neighbourhood; no—not even a baronet. There was not one family among their acquaintancewho had reared and supported a boy accidentally found at their door—not one young man whose origin was unknown. Her father had noward, and the squire of the parish no children.But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of fortysurrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and willhappen to throw a hero in her way.Mr. Allen, who owned the chief of the property about Fullerton,the village in Wiltshire where the Morlands lived, was ordered toBath for the benefit of a gouty constitution—and his lady, agood-humoured woman, fond of Miss Morland, and probably aware thatif adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, shemust seek them abroad, invited her to go with them. Mr. and Mrs.Morland were all compliance, and Catherine all happiness.

Editorial Reviews

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