, written in
Jane Austen's youth and posthumously published, is arguably her most
mysterious, imaginative, and optimistic novel. This Norton Critical
Edition is the most extensively annotated student edition available.
"Backgrounds" features material carefully chosen to enhance readers'
appreciation of the novel, including biographical commentary, early
works and correspondence related to : Northanger Abbey
excerpts by Ann Radcliffe, Frances Burney, and William Wordsworth,
among others, tracing Austen's connection to her Romantic
"Criticism" collects thirteen assessments of : Northanger Abbey
from a wide range of voices and periods, including essays by Margaret
Oliphant and Rebecca West and critics Patricia Meyer Spacks, Claudia L.
Johnson, Lee Erickson, and Joseph Litvak.
A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.
About the Series
: No other series of classic texts equals the caliber of the Norton Critical Editions
Each volume combines the most authoritative text available with the
comprehensive pedagogical apparatus necessary to appreciate the work
fully. Careful editing, first-rate translation, and thorough
explanatory annotations allow each text to meet the highest literary
standards while remaining accessible to students. Each edition is
printed on acid-free paper and every text in the series remains in
print. Norton Critical Editions are the choice for excellence in
scholarship for students at more than 2,000 universities worldwide.
A Review from Amazon.com
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
, 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
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
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