Northanger, Take 2

I had forgotten just how blatantly sarcastic Austen is in this book. Take this bit:

“The following conversation [between Catherine and Isabella] … is given as a specimen of their very warm attachment, and of the delicacy, discretion, originality of thought, and literary taste which marked the reasonableness of that attachment [:] …

‘My dearest creature, what can have made you so late? I have been wating for you at least this age!’

‘Have you, indeed! – I am very sorry for it; but really I thougth I was in very good time. It is but just one. I hope you have not been here long?’

‘Oh! these ten ages at least. … I have an hundred things to say to you. In the first place, I was so afraid it would rain this morning, … Do you know, I saw the prettiest hat you can imagine, …” etc etc (Book I, Chapter vi).

The promised example of “literary taste” in the conversation comes in when Isabella hands Catherine a list of the latest must-read gothic horror novels, the titles including such gems as The Necromancer of the Black Forest. (Uh, no. I don’t even want to know).

And here’s another line I enjoyed, from the famous “defense of the novel” passage in I, v:

“Although our productions [of novels] have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried.” Not, perhaps, until the advent of television?

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2 thoughts on “Northanger, Take 2

  1. How familiar are you with the “romance” genres Austen is satirizing in Northanger Abbey: the Gothic fictions of Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Matthew “Monk” Lewis?

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    • Not hugely so, i.e. I haven’t actually read any of them, just perused the Sparks Notes versions, as it were (or rather, the wikipedia plot summaries). I did, however, just pick up a copy of “Udolpho” at a second-hand store (for a whole three bucks).

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