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Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

Download Northanger Abbey ebook. Northanger Abbey (/ˈnɔːrθˌæŋər/)[1] was the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be completed for publication, in 1803. However, it was not until after her death in 1817 that it was published, along with her other novel, Persuasion.[1] The novel is a satire of Gothic novels, which were quite popular at the time in 1798–99.[2] This “coming of age,” story revolves around the main character, Catherine, a young and naïve “heroine,” who entertains her reader on her journey of self-knowledge, as she gains a better understanding of the world and those around her.[3] Because of her experiences, reality sets in and she discovers that she is not like other women who crave for wealth or social acceptance, but instead she is a true heroine in that she is an ordinary young woman who wishes to have nothing but happiness and a genuine sense of morality. [4]

Austen first titled Northanger Abbey as Susan, when she sold it in 1803 for £10 to a London bookseller, Crosby & Co., who decided against publishing.[1] Austen reportedly threatened to take her work back from them, to which they responded to by informing her that she would face legal consequences for reclaiming her text.[5] Austen further revised the novel in 1816-1817, with the intention of having it published, and in the spring of 1816, the bookseller sold it back to the novelist’s brother, Henry Austen, for the same sum, as the bookseller did not know that the writer was by then the author of four popular novels. Austen had rewritten sections, renaming the main character to Catherine, and using that as her working title.

When Austen died in July 1817, her brother Henry renamed the novel 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, the other two volumes being the more recently completed Austen novel, Persuasion, with a preface for the first time publicly identifying Jane Austen as the author of all her novels. Neither novel was published under the working title Jane Austen used. Aside from first being published together, the two novels are not linked, and later editions were published as separate novels.

The novel is more explicitly comedic than her other works, and contains many literary allusions that her parents and siblings would have enjoyed. This novel served as family entertainment—a piece of lighthearted parody to be read aloud by the fireside.

Editorial Reviews

Though Northanger Abbey is one of Jane Austen’s earliest novels, it was not published until after her death–well after she’d established her reputation with works such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility. Of all her novels, this one is the most explicitly literary in that it is primarily concerned with books and with readers. In it, Austen skewers the novelistic excesses of her day made popular in such 18th-century Gothic potboilers as Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers all figure into Northanger Abbey, but with a decidedly satirical twist. Consider Austen’s introduction of her heroine: we are told on the very first page that “no one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine.” The author goes on to explain that Miss Morland’s father is a clergyman with “a considerable independence, besides two good livings–and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters.” Furthermore, her mother does not die giving birth to her, and Catherine herself, far from engaging in “the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush” vastly prefers playing cricket with her brothers to any girlish pastimes.

Catherine grows up to be a passably pretty girl and is invited to spend a few weeks in Bath with a family friend. While there she meets Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor, who invite her to visit their family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Austen amuses herself and us as Catherine, a great reader of Gothic romances, allows her imagination to run wild, finding dreadful portents in the most wonderfully prosaic events. But Austen is after something more than mere parody; she uses her rapier wit to mock not only the essential silliness of “horrid” novels, but to expose the even more horrid workings of polite society, for nothing Catherine imagines could possibly rival the hypocrisy she experiences at the hands of her supposed friends. In many respects Northanger Abbey is the most lighthearted of Jane Austen’s novels, yet at its core is a serious, unsentimental commentary on love and marriage, 19th-century British style. –Alix Wilber –This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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About the Author

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Her biting social commentary and masterful use of both free indirect speech and irony eventually made Austen one of the most influential and honored novelists in English Literature.

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