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message 1: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Spencer I feel indulged when I read Austen. She's like a devoted servant, her words like the hands and feet of a lifelong servant. Opening the book, she spreads the table with what must of been much fuss over the preparation. I love all the gothic romance anti-references, "No one... would have supposed her born to be an heroine" "not the least addicted to locking up his daughters" "Instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as any body might expect" I get the immediate sense of Catherine's fevered imagination, fed by the gothic books of the day, and am prepared to experience her eventual shock as the reality she encounters disappoints her expectations. It shows me Austen had a thorough understanding of her plot before she began writing. I happen to wing it a lot, writing off the cuff, but When I see how wonderful it is to read such prepared words, I'm encouraged to follow her example.


message 2: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Spencer At the beginning of Chapter 4, Catherine is looking for Tilney in the Pump-room, he isn't there, and the narration tells us she sees "people whom nobody cared about, and nobody wanted to see; and he only was absent." The words obviously aren't disinterested 3rd person. Yet they're not quite free indirect speech. I can't quite imagine Catherine to have spoken those words, even to Mrs. Tilney in private. She would be too careful not to offend a family friend. It feels like I'm reading Catherine's journal. Wikipedia cites Randall Stevenson as calling it free indirect style.
To me, it seems a way for Austen to amuse the reader by presenting Catherine's feelings in a subtle way, and then contrasting them with Mrs. Allen's stark words, "What a delightful place Bath is." And I love it when Mrs. Allen concludes, "and how pleasant it would be if we had any acquaintance here," which to Catherine would resound as an understatement.
Whatever Austen had intended by it, I come quickly to care for Catherine by the use of this inviting technique.


message 3: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Spencer Sorry so wordy,
but here I think is how Austen foreshadows a major plot line. In chapter five, Isabella is encouraging Catherine to think of Tilney. Finding out he is a clergyman, Isabella is quoted as saying something like, "she must confess herself very partial to the profession;" Isabella, we know, will say anything to win approval if she thinks there is money in it. But the money will not follow a marriage to Catherine's brother, so she eventually casts her hook more rashly. Catherine here doesn't ask about Isabella's unusual behavior because, I think, she is innocent and the subject dark bottomed, something she may have intuitively known, but she is excused by the narrator as if Catherine herself were the one giving the critique. The quotation of Isabella, though indirect and free, is used by Austen to say "pay attention to this." Catherine herself, it appears, has noticed it. Then, Austen uses "perhaps" to say, "here is some specious reasoning by a naive girl," and proceeds to lead the reader away from the truth. Finally, she begins the next paragraph with another subject entirely to dismiss the reader.
I think this is an excellent example of a technique for foreshadowing. Again, highlight the foreshadowing with the quotation, unsettle the reader with "perhaps", lead the reader away with false reasoning, then move on abruptly to another subject. A neat little package of writing!


message 4: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Spencer A great paragraph! Near the end of chapter nine, beginning "Little as Catherine was in the habit of judging for herself," when John Thorpe and Catherine have come home from the ride in the gig. I love the slide Thorpe takes to being disagreeable.
Austen is doing something here. Big, powerful words are juxtaposed with small subtle words to create... something, I know not what.
Thorpe spoke "effusions of endless conceit" He was supposed to be "altogether completely agreeable" But "extreme weariness" marked him, which "continued unceasingly" He was supposed to have "powers of giving universal pleasure."
But Catherine is "little" and "unfixed" something "crept over her" She could not "entirely repress a doubt" She was induced "in some small degree, to resist"
I feel like Catherine is the little girl who is star struck by her friends, and who now is getting that first glimpse of the cracks in her reverent image of them. Will the image fall completely apart? I'm pretty sure she'll justify saving the image for as long as possible.


message 5: by Dena (new)

Dena Huff (huffreadsstuff) | 6 comments I just finished the book, so I'm going to refrain from commenting. The only thing I will say is that the edition of the book I read contained an introduction, which pretty much spoiled the whole thing. I loved the analysis in the intro, but I have a hard time even knowing what I would have thought of the book without reading the intro.


message 6: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Spencer Sorry you felt that way. With some books, yeah, it takes from the pleasure of the read to know the dry facts. In terms of food, like learning the source of escargot just as its served.


message 7: by Dena (new)

Dena Huff (huffreadsstuff) | 6 comments Yeah! I did enjoy it.


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