The book we are reading this month is NORTHANGER ABBEY. Our schedule is on my right sidebar, so as you can see I've planned to read Austen's six major works following the chronological order of their writing... more or less. I know NA was the third one but I wanted to avoid reading the 2 most popular of her six one near the other , soon, at the beginning. So, this is why my chronological order is not perfect. I wanted to put a novel my reading-mates in the club knew less between the two most popular ones. In fact, several of them have already read (or seen adaptations) of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. Instead, very few know about Northanger Abbey or have already read it.
I'm going to start posting materials and reflections about this novel as well as some quizzes and their answers from time to time, till the end of the month. I hope you'll enjoy reading both the novel and my notes. Our next meeting is on Saturday 27th February 2010.
1. THE NOVEL & ITS PUBLICATION
(From "So you think you know Jane Austen?" by J. Sutherland and D. Le Faye)
Northanger Abbey is reckoned to be the third written of Austen's six major novels—although it was the last published, in a bundled, posthumous four-volume set with Persuasion. The circumstances of its early composition and belated publication are given in James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir, the 'Advertisement'to the December 1817 first edition, and some surviving letters. It seems that Austen completed the novel in 1798/9 (aged 24). The novel was sold to the bookseller, Crosby & Co., for £10, in 1803 (he was not, as legend has it, based in Bath, but London). It was promptly advertised as 'In the Press' (as 'Susan'). But by 1809, no novel had appeared. Nor, apparently, was any explanation given to the frustrated author. When Austen (under incognito) complained, Crosby offered to sell back the property for what he had given. Austen did not, apparently, recover the copyright until 1816 (Crosby not realizing that he had a manuscript by the author of Pride and Prejudice).
Austen had a spare copy of the manuscript and may, over the years, have made other changes to 'Susan' than the title. But the consensus of scholarly opinion is that the novel is substantially what she wrote in 1798/9. The author died in July 1817 and Northanger Abbey was published, posthumously, by John Murray, six months later.
What reason can Crosby have had for keeping this vivacious work unread? It is suggested that he felt that its satire might dampen the inflamed demand for the 'Gothics' he specialized in.
This, one speculates, was the only time in literary history which the demure Miss Austen suffered censorship. For her wit, appropriately enough.
In the 'Advertisement by the Authoress' to Murray's edition, Austen notes that during its thirteen years in limbo 'places, manners, books, and opinions have undergone considerable changes'. Historically, the period between the Revolutionary Terror of 1789 and Waterloo changed the world utterly.
"Austen’s Northanger Abbey is not outrightly depicted as a feminist novel, but by portraying Catherine in the way she does, Austen questions the literary ideal female type. Catherine’s individuality manifests itself within the very first page of the novel where Austen depicts the main character as anything but a heroine. Catherine “was fond of all boys’ plays, and greatly preferred cricket…to the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush” (Austen 5)". GO ON READING
3. THESE ARE INSTEAD THE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ANSWER WHILE/AFTER READING .
I'll publish the answers, few at a time, in my next posts.
(from "So you think you know Jane Austen?" by J. Sutherland and D. Le Faye)
I / I What is Mr Morland's profession? How well off is he? What is the source of his wealth?
1/2 How many children do the Reverend Mr and Mrs Morland have? How many of their Christian names do we know?
1/3 What boisterous games does Catherine play as a girl?
1/4 How many children do the rich Aliens have?
1/5 How much money does Mr Morland give Catherine as her Bath allowance? What do we learn that she spends it on?
1/6 How old is Henry Tilney?
1/7 What is Henry's profession, and how does Catherine learn of it?
1/8 How much older than Catherine is 'Miss Thorpe' (that is, Isabella)?
1/9 What is the first, and what the second, novel Catherine and Isabella read together?
1/10 How much did John Thorpe pay Freeman, of Christ Church, for his gig?
1/11 Where are James and John students?
1/12 In Bath, after the Thursday evening ball, Catherine is exultant: 'her spirits danced within her, as she danced in her chair all the way home.' What chair is this?
1/13 What is Miss Tilney's first name?
1 / 1 4 What aspect of Catherine's walk does General Tilney particularly admire?
1 / 1 5 Where did Henry go to university?
1/16 What is Isabella Thorpe's family nickname?
1/17 What profession is James intended for?
1/18 In what service is Frederick Tilney a captain?
1/19 Is Captain Frederick the elder, or younger brother?
1/20 What was Northanger Abbey originally?
1/21 What does Catherine realize she has found in the black cabinet?
1/22 Does Henry have a butler at Woodston?
1/23 What are the 'friends of Henry's solitude' at Woodston?
1/24 What pretext does the General give for throwing Catherine out of Northanger Abbey, with a bare eight hours' notice and no servant?
1/25 Who has disabused the General as to Catherine's prospects?
This post is my first one for the JA Challenge 2010 hosted by