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Northanger Abbey

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The Author
There was nothing of the literary woman in the external affairs of her life and its conduct. Born on 16 December, 1775, at Steventon in Hampshire, of which her father was rector, and dying at Winchester on 18 July, 1817, she passed the intervening years almost entirely in the country. She lived with her family in Bath from 1801 to 1806, and at Southampton from 1806 to 1809. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon. Austen died in Winchester on 18 July 1817, at the age of 41, before completing it.

The Novel
Of the six published novels, Northanger Abbey is, probably, that which comes nearest to being Jane Austen’s earliest work. Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen's novels to be completed for publication, though she had previously made a start on Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. According to Cassandra Austen's Memorandum, Susan (as it was first called) was written approximately during 1798–99. It was revised by Austen for the press in 1803, and sold in the same year for £10 to a London bookseller, Crosby & Co., who decided against publishing. In 1817, the bookseller was content to sell it back to the novelist's brother, Henry Austen, for the exact sum — £10 — that he had paid for it at the beginning, not knowing that the writer was by then the author of four popular novels. The novel was further revised before being brought out posthumously in late December 1817 (1818 given on the title-page), as the first two volumes of a four-volume set with Persuasion.

Northanger Abbey is fundamentally a parody of Gothic fiction. Austen turns the conventions of eighteenth-century novels on their head, by making her heroine a plain and undistinguished girl from a middle-class family, allowing the heroine to fall in love with the hero before he has a serious thought of her, and exposing the heroine's romantic fears and curiosities as groundless. Several Gothic novels are mentioned in the book, including most importantly The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian by Ann Radcliffe. Austen also satirizes Clermont, a Gothic novel by Regina Maria Roche. This last is included in a list of seven somewhat obscure Gothic works, known as the 'Northanger horrid novels'.

Literary Allusions

On Sir Walter Scott — Miss Austen's novels, especially Emma and Northanger Abbey, were great favourites with Scott, and he often read chapters of them to his evening circle.

Thomas Henry Lister, 1826 in „Granby“, Chapter 10:  ― "Now I hardly know whether you are joking or not. I think not―you look so serious. But do tell me your favourite novels. I hope you like nothing of Miss Edgeworth's or Miss Austen's. They are full of common-place people, that one recognises at once. You cannot think how I was disappointed in Northanger Abbey, and Castle Rackrent, for the titles did really promise something.

Letitia Elizabeth Landon in "Romance and Reality", Chapter 17, 1831: ― "I prefer Miss Austen's; they are the truest pictures of country life, whose little schemes, hopes, scandals, &c. are detected with a woman's tact, and told with a woman's vivacity."

Northanger Abbey
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  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Classics
  • Published: 02 July 1803
  • Publisher: Silver Fork Novels
  • Print Length: 355 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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