Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey Wrap Up: Giveaway Winners Announced!

“But now you love a hyacinth. So much the better. You have gained a new source of enjoyment, and it is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible. Besides, a taste for flowers is always desirable in your sex, as a means of getting you out of doors, and tempting you to more frequent exercise than you would otherwise take. And though the love of a hyacinth may be rather domestic, who can tell, the sentiment once raised, but you may in time come to love a rose?” Henry Tilney, Chapter 22 

Ahh… Henry Tilney is so wise. It is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible. As Catherine learned to love a hyacinth, I hope that readers have learned to love Northanger Abbey and gained a new source of enjoyment through the group read. For me, it was pure fun and a joy to write about. Jane Austen’s other major novels may get all the limelight, but I think it quite appropriate that it resides in a lower place like the spooky dungeons in the Gothic novels that it parodies. 

This is my second novel event here at Austenprose, and this time out I had some help from my friends with great guest blogs who added their expertise and humor to entertain us. A big thank you to all the guest bloggers. 

Amanda Grange: Henry Tilney’s Story

Diana Birchall: as Isabella Thorpe on Northanger movies

Margaret (Mags) Sullivan of AustenBlog: Henry Tilney the ultimate hero

Kali Pappas of Emma Adaptations & Strangegirl Designs: Fashion in the Northanger movies

James Jenkins of Valancourt Books: the ‘horrid novels’ of Northanger Abbey

Trina Robbins & Anne Timmons: Gothic Classics: Graphic Classics Volume 14 

An extra loud shout out to Ms Place (Vic) of Jane Austen’s World: for writing four blogs on Catherine Morland’s experience in Bath. Great job and thanks Vic. 

PRIZE WINNERS

And now for the fun stuff! Here are all the winners of the 16 prizes. Congratulations to all, and many thanks to all who participated. 

Day 01 – Oct 1             Northanger Abbey – OWC – Heather                      

Day 02 – Oct 2            Northanger Abbey – Penguin Classics – Ren

Day 04 – Oct 7            Northanger Abbey – Barnes & Noble Classics – Lucia

Day 06 – Oct 9            Northanger Abbey – Norton Critical Edition – Felicia  

Day 08 – Oct 14          Jane Austen in BathCourtney  

Day 10 – Oct 16          Jane Austen’s Guide to Good MannersEmily

Day 11 – Oct 19         Northanger Abbey Audio Unabridged – Janeen

Day 11 – Oct 19         Northanger Abbey Audio Abridged – Sylvia M.        

Day 12 – Oct 20         The Mysterious Warning – Valancourt Books – JaneFan  

Day 13 – Oct 21         Northanger Abbey Stage play – Carrie Oak Rise Cottage  

Day 15 – Oct 23         Jane Austen Entertains – Music CD – Joanna  

Day 16 – Oct 26         The Mysteries of Udolpho – OWC – Leah  

Day 17 – Oct 27         Gothic Classics: Graphic Classics Volume 14 - Becky

Day 18 – Oct 28         Northanger Abbey – Broadview – Crazy_Spinster

Day 19 - Oct 29         The Mysteries of Udolpho – Penguin Classics – M

Day 20 – Oct 30         Jane Austen: Seven Novels – Barnes & Noble – Susan 

Winners – Your prompt reply is appreciated. You have one week to claim your prize! Please e-mail me, (austenprose at verizon dot net) before Saturday, November 8th, 2008. If I do not receive a response by a winner by that date, I will draw another name and continue until all of the prizes have a home to mail them to. Thanks again to everyone for your great contributions. Congrats to the winners, and enjoy! 

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey is officially concluded!

 

 

If you don’t read Northanger Abbey, Henry will know!

 

THE END 

 

Northanger Abbey Chapters 29-31: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 20 Giveaway

On entering the room, the first object she beheld was a young man whom she had never seen before. With a look of much respect, he immediately rose, and being introduced to her by her conscious daughter as “Mr. Henry Tilney,” with the embarrassment of real sensibility began to apologize for his appearance there, acknowledging that after what had passed he had little right to expect a welcome at Fullerton, and stating his impatience to be assured of Miss Morland’s having reached her home in safety, as the cause of his intrusion. The Narrator, Chapter 30 

Quick Synopsis 

Catherine is too wretched to be fearful of her journey home. She thinks only of Henry as she passes along the road that once took her to Woodston where she spent the happiest day of her life. She is anxious of his return to Northanger to find her gone, and her parent’s reaction when she appears unannounced. They welcome her warmly and hear the story, perplexed as she is over the general’s actions. Catherine writes to Eleanor of her safe arrival and returns the advance. She calls on the Allen’s who agree that the general acted oddly. Her mother notices that Catherine is restless and unproductive and thinks she has “been spoilt for home by great acquaintance.” Henry Tilney arrives to apologize for his father and explain that Catherine “was guilty only of being less rich than he had supposed her to be.” He has had a great argument with his father who ordered him to never see Catherine again. He proposes to Catherine who accepts. Mr. and Mrs. Morland give their consent contingent on his father’s approval. Eleanor marries her beau who was previously unacceptable until an “unexpected accession to title and fortune had removed all his difficulties.” Now a viscountess, her father is in a fit of good humor. She asks her father to forgive Henry, he agrees after learning that the Morland’s are not poor and Catherine will have a 3,000 pound dowry. They marry, the bells rang and everyone smiled. The narrator leaves it to the reader to decide if unjust interference is rather conductive to the strength of an attachment.

Musings 

Catherine’s sudden and unexplained ejection from Northanger sends her home in a tearful and wretched state. She only thinks of Henry as she passes down the same road that once took her to Woodson where she spent the happiest day of her life. She is anxious of other’s reactions when Henry arrives at Northanger to find her sent away, and for her parent’s when she arrives unannounced. After eleven hours on the road, she arrives at Fullerton. Though a true Gothic heroine would arrive home a countess in a chaise in four, our heroine sadly arrived in solitude and disgrace. Her family warmly greets her and “she found herself soothed beyond anything that she had believed possible.” At length she explained to her family what had happened, and they can not understand the general’s actions, “what could have provoked him to such a breach of hospitality, and so suddenly turned all his partial regard for their daughter? How comforting to return home after such unrest to be embraced by your family. Her mother philosophizes over her loss and hopes that “the next new friends you make I hope will be better worth keeping.” Catherine, in a pensive state can only think of Henry and that he might quickly forget HER.

She could never forget Henry Tilney, or think of him with less tenderness than she did at that moment; but he might forget her; and in that case, to meet – ! Her eyes filled with tears as she pictured her acquaintance so renewed; and her mother, perceiving her comfortable suggestions to have had no good effect, proposed, as another expedient for restoring her spirits, that they should call on Mrs. Allen. The Narrator, Chapter 29

When Catherine is restless and unproductive, her mother does not suspect love but thinks she has become a fine lady and has “been spoilt for home by great acquaintance” from her experience in Bath and Northanger. I had a good laugh at this. How little life has changed in two hundred years. Parent’s are still clueless and misread their children. What a surprise when Henry arrives. Let’s hope that this clues Mrs. Morland into their relationship.

Catherine meanwhile – the anxious, agitated, happy, feverish Catherine – said not a word; but her glowing cheek and brightened eye made her mother trust that this good-natured visit would at least set her heart at ease for a time, and gladly therefore did she lay aside the first volume of The Mirror for a future hour. The Narrator, Chapter 30

Henry is of course his charming self, and Mrs. Morland notices the change in her daughter. When he expresses a desire to pay his respects to the Allen’s seeking Catherine’s assistance to find the way, Mrs. Morland begins to understand the motive in his visit and consents to their walk. Once they are alone and can talk more freely, the truth starts to come out. He wastes no time and declares his sincere affection for Catherine and her heart in return was solicited. Hurrah! What a relief. Henry tells her that when he returned to Northanger, his father told him of her departure and ordered him to think of her no more. “Such was the permission upon which he had now offered her his hand.” He reveals to her relief that she had done nothing to offend the general and that she “was guilty only of being less rich than he had supposed her to be.” Being mistaken by her fortune and connections he had courted her acquaintance in Bath and solicited her company at Northanger. John Thorpe had informed him in Bath of his acquaintance and hopes of marrying her himself. Thorpe then proceeded to pump up her fortune from her father and legacy from the Allen’s. The general never doubted his source. Henry and Eleanor were astounded that their father’s interest in her and his command for Henry to attach her affections. John Thorpe later revealed to the General that he “confessed himself to have been totally mistaken in his opinion of their circumstances and character.” The general is enraged with everybody but himself. Catherine heard enough to “feel that in suspecting General Tilney of either murdering or shutting up his wife, she had scarcely sinned against his character, or magnified his cruelty.” Henry’s indignation of how Catherine had been treated rallied his honor and affections.

He felt himself bound as much in honour as in affection to Miss Morland, and believing that heart to be his own which he had been directed to gain, no unworthy retraction of a tacit consent, no reversing decree of unjustifiable anger, could shake his fidelity, or influence the resolutions it prompted. The Narrator, Chapter 30

Swoon! If Catherine had been previously influenced by the drama and sentimentality of Gothic novels, his story and reactions must have sent her into ecstasy. She is now living the romance that she so craved, but as Henry had so wisely moralized to her previously, “our pleasures in this world are always to be paid for, and that we often purchase them at a great disadvantage.” Her happiness she will learn must be dearly paid for when her parent’s agree to the marriage contingent upon the approval of the general. What a road block. Henry is estranged from his father and it is not likely that he will apologize and make amends. They must wait for his change of heart which does not look promising considering his temperament. Only a miracle could soften his resolve.

The circumstance which chiefly availed was the marriage of his daughter with a man of fortune and consequence, which took place in the course of the summer – an accession of dignity that threw him into a fit of good humour, from which he did not recover till after Eleanor had obtained his forgiveness of Henry, and his permission for him “to be a fool if he liked it!” The Narrator, Chapter 31

Austen has added a great twist to the plot when all hope seemed against our happy couple when Eleanor marries her previously unacceptable beau, whose “unexpected accession to title and fortune had removed all his difficulties” placing the general in a fit of good humor! What luck! Her influence on her brother’s behalf is aided by her position as a viscountess, the fact that the Morland’s are neither necessitous or poor, and that Catherine’s dowry will be three thousand pounds. “Henry and Catherine were married, the bells rang, and everybody smiled“, all within a twelvemonth of their meeting, despite being plagued by dreadful delays and the general’s cruelty.

To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is to do pretty well; and professing myself moreover convinced that the general’s unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience. The Narrator, Chapter 31

And so the story concludes happily, but with the narrator interjecting a bit of irony at the very end. Henry and Catherine have the blessing of their families, and we are supplied with a gentle zinger. What an appropriate and satisfying conclusion.

THE END

Further reading

Read Northanger Abbey Summary: Chapters 29-31

Read Northanger Abbey Quotes & Quips: Chapters 29-31

 

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 20 Giveaway

Jane Austen: Seven Novels – Library of Essential Writers Series (2006) 

By Jane Austen and includes the complete and unabridged editions of : Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Lady Susan

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of the Jane Austen Seven Novels (2006)

(US residents only)

Upcoming event posts 

Day 21 – Oct 31          Go Gothic Wrap-up

 

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: Gothically Inspired: Day 19 Giveaway

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, and most of them with great pleasure. The Mysteries of Udolpho, when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I remember finishing it in two days – my hair standing on end the whole time.” Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 14 

Even though Northanger Abbey has often been touted as the least popular of Jane Austen’s six major novels in readership and sales, I have long adored it for its burlesque humor and charming characterization of hero Henry Tilney. It has always been a puzzle to me why others did not bond with it, and felt it has never gotten a fair shake. The fact that the 1986 movie adaptation of it was really odd and not a true representation of the story or characters did not help matters either. So when PBS premiered the new Andrew Davies adaptation of Northanger Abbey (2007) last January on Masterpiece Classic, I was thrilled with the possibility that it could generate a new audience for my dark horse. 

When it aired, the reception was mixed by the public and critics. I was enchanted even though it was much too short at 90 minutes and unfortunately, much had been cut out of the story. On the positive side, it was energetic and great fun and Austen’s intensions were treated much more reverently than the previous effort in 1986, so it was step in the right direction. 

One of the benefits to being a bookseller is that I see the immediate impact on the public from television and movies as viewers seek out novelizations or related books. One weekend shortly after the PBS airing of Northanger Abbey, I had an interesting encounter with a new fan as I assisted a retirement aged woman in locating a long list of titles on an assortment of subjects, none of which was Austen or Austen inspired. Her husband joined us after a few minutes with a joyous look on his face, obviously pleased that he located the title that he had wanted to purchase. “I found it” (he holds up the cover and shows it to his wife who looks surprised but annoyed). “Oh what is it now?” she bellowed. (she had selected about six books to his one) “The Mysteries of Udolpho! They had it featured as a staff rec.” He exclaimed. (I am a silent smiling observer of their husband wife acerbic discourse, and then the wife turns to me) “My husband just loved that Jane Austen movie on television, and now he wants to know why that young girl was hooked on that book.” (She points at the book cover. He smirks at her and says coldly) “Her name was Catherine Morland dear.” 

Ok, that made my day! 

Even after ten months, this story makes me smile. In a way that some objected to, the new Northanger Abbey movie did reach people in a positive way inspiring them to read Austen’s gentle parody and the Gothic fiction mentioned in the novel such as The Mysteries of Udolpho and the other ‘horrid novels’ listed in the Northanger Canon. One of my customers even quoted Henry Tilney’s great line about “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” Talk about Gothically inspired! Now that gentle readers, made my entire year!

Further reading

  • Read my review of Northanger Abbey (2007)
  • Read a review of Northanger Abbey (2007) at Jane Austen’s World
  • Read about the Gothic novels mentioned in Northanger Abbey
  • Purchase The Mysteries of Udolpho

 

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 19 Giveaway

 

Penguin Classics – The Mysteries of Udolpho (2001) 

By Ann Radcliffe introduction by Jacqueline Howard 

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of the Penguin Classics – The Mysteries of Udolpho

(US residents only) 

Upcoming event posts

Day 20 – Oct 30          Group Read NA Chapters 29-31

Day 21 – Oct 31          Go Gothic Wrap-up

Northanger Abbey Chapters 25-28: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 18 Giveaway!

The visions of romance were over. Catherine was completely awakened. Henry’s address, short as it had been, had more thoroughly opened her eyes to the extravagance of her late fancies than all their several disappointments had done. Most grievously was she humbled. Most bitterly did she cry. It was not only with herself that she was sunk – but with Henry. Her folly, which now seemed even criminal, was all exposed to him, and he must despise her forever. The Narrator, Chapter 25 

Quick Synopsis 

Catherine fears that the romance is over. Henry’s questions had opened her eyes to the extravagance of her late fancies. She acknowledges that she had forced horror into every situation craving to be frightened, tracing the source to reading Mrs. Radcliffe’s novels. She is determined to judge and act in the future only with good sense and forgive herself. Henry is noble and attentive, never mentioning the incident again. A letter from James reveals that he has broken off his engagement to Isabella unable to bear her duplicity with Captain Tilney. Henry and Eleanor are very doubtful of the possibility of an engagement because of Isabella’s fortune and connections. Catherine sees no problem since General Tilney is so liberal, “he only valued money as it allowed him to promote the happiness of his children.” An excursion is planned to Henry’s home at Woodston, and preparations require him to leave early. They arrive and Catherine is given the tour of the house and grounds. In her heart she prefers it to any other place she had ever been to. A letter arrives from Isabella. She is fearful that there is some misunderstanding between her and James wanting Catherine to write and make amends for her. Catherine sees what she is about and wishes that she had never known her. The General leaves for London and Catherine, Eleanor and Henry enjoy their freedom. He returns unannounced and informs Eleanor that they have another engagement that will take them away. Eleanor sadly informs Catherine that she must leave the next morning. Catherine feels that she has done something wrong to be treated so abruptly, bids her friend adieu and asks to be remembered to Henry who is away at Woodston. Dejected she departs for her home and family.

Musings 

We see our heroine Catherine maturing in the next four chapters. First she must be duly humbled by the man she loves to really feel the growth and make the changes.

When naughty Catherine is caught snooping about private rooms at Northanger by Henry she is distressed and embarrassed. She admonishes herself and thinks that the romance is now over, acknowledging that she forced horror into every situation, and tracing the source to reading Mrs. Radcliffe’s novels. This is a turning point for our heroine. She realizes her folly, and is determined only to act in the future with good sense and forgive herself. Wow, big moment here. How mature of her. She is only 17, but now can see that her childish choices did not serve her in the adult world of reality and she is ready to forgive herself and move on! I know a few 40 something adults that have yet to learn this lesson, so more power to her. Still dejected, Henry soon buoys her spirits by his attentions. What a gallant and noble guy! When a letter from James reveals his broken engagement with Isabella because he has discovered her duplicity with Captain Tilney, Catherine is distressed for her brother and wants Henry to reveal all to their father. When Eleanor and Henry are doubtful that their brother Frederick would be serious about Isabella because she has no fortune or connections, Catherine is unsure of their conclusion since their father is so liberal “he only valued money as it allowed him to promote the happiness of his children.” Moreover, when a visit to Henry’s home at Woodston is planned, she does not understand why Henry must leave in advance to for the visit that his father requested he make no extra effort for.

“I am come, young ladies, in a very moralizing strain, to observe that our pleasures in this world are always to be paid for, and that we often purchase them at a great disadvantage, giving ready-monied actual happiness for a draft on the future, that may not be honoured. Witness myself, at this present hour. Because I am to hope for the satisfaction of seeing you at Woodston on Wednesday, which bad weather, or twenty other causes, may prevent, I must go away directly, two days before I intended it.” Henry Tilney, Chapter 25

Henry knows that the pleasures of this life must be paid for, but Catherine expressly heard the General request that no extra effort be made. However, Henry and Eleanor knowing their father better, sense exactly what was expected. Catherine has not quite learned how to read people and does not understand when they say one thing and mean another. I can’t say I really blame her. Reading personalities is a skill that some people never fully succeed at, but those that do like Henry have a much easier life! The visit to the parsonage at Woodston is another example of her naivety. The General apologizes for the size of the village and the modesty of the parsonage, and Catherine only sees that “in her heart she preferred it to any place she had ever been at.” The General was testing her approval as a possible future home if she were to marry his son. She only sees a comfortable house and a room that needs proper fitting up. You would think that she would get his meaning when he mentions that the room has not been decorated, waiting for a ladies touch! Still not quite catching the between the lines meaning in conversation, later I do see a ray of hope for Catherine after she receives the long awaited letter from Isabella who is on a scouting expedition for support and help from Catherine to patch up her relationship with James. Isabella tells her that “it is very difficult to know whom to trust, and young men never know their minds two days together.” Surprisingly, Catherine does not buy into Isabella’s scheme to manipulate her into convincing her brother that she still loves him and wants him again.

Such a strain of shallow artifice could not impose even upon Catherine. Its inconsistencies, contradictions, and falsehood struck her from the very first. She was ashamed of Isabella, and ashamed of having ever loved her. Her professions of attachment were now as disgusting as her excuses were empty, and her demands impudent. “Write to James on her behalf! No, James should never hear Isabella’s name mentioned by her again.” The Narrator, Chapter 27

Bravo Catherine. You are starting to understand how it all works, (if such things are ever fully understood between people.) When she informs Henry of Isabella’s letter, she is concerned that their father should know of his son’s involvement, but wise Henry is a diplomat telling her that her “mind is warped by an innate principle of general integrity, and therefore not accessible to the cool reasonings of family partiality, or a desire of revenge.” Catherine believes the best of everyone. Henry knows from experience that that notion exposes oneself to misinterpretation. The final hard knock for our heroine comes from General Tilney, when after returning unannounced from a trip to London, he is vexed beyond reason, sending his daughter Eleanor to inform Miss Morland that she must depart the next morning without any warning.

From what it could arise, and where it would end, were considerations of equal perplexity and alarm. The manner in which it was done so grossly uncivil, hurrying her away without any reference to her own convenience, or allowing her even the appearance of choice as to the time or mode of her travelling; of two days, the earliest fixed on, and of that almost the earliest hour, as if resolved to have her gone before he was stirring in the morning, that he might not be obliged even to see her. What could all this mean but an intentional affront? The Narrator, Chapter 28

With little explanation she bids adieu to her friend. Her last though before she darts to the carriage in tears is of Henry, and she asks to be remembered to him in his absence. Dejected, she departs Northanger Abbey for home ending her visit in a flood of tears and anguish.

  • Online text of Northanger Abbey complements of Molland’s Circulating-library
  • Group reading schedule
  • Read Northanger Abbey Summary: Chapters 22-28
  • Read Northanger Abbey Quotes & Quips: Chapters 22-28

 

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 18 Giveaway

Broadview Literary Texts edition of Northanger Abbey (2004) 

By Jane Austen introduction by Claire Grogan

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of the Broadview edition of Northanger Abbey (2004)

(US residents only)

Upcoming event posts

Day 19 – Oct 29          Gothic Inspirations
Day 20 – Oct 30          Group Read NA Chapters 29-31
Day 21 – Oct 31          Go Gothic Wrap-up

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: Catherine Morland’s Experience in Bath Part 4

if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village,
she must seek them abroad
 

Beechen Cliff, the Arts, and Natural Surroundings 

at Jane Austen’s World 

Take a walk through the countryside of Bath with Ms. Place (Vic) as she continues to explore heroine Catherine Morland’s experience in Bath with her excellent and informative post, Beechen Cliff, the Arts, and Natural Surroundings, at her blog Jane Austen’s World. Learn why Henry Tilney chose this beautiful vantage to take Catherine and his sister Eleanor on there outing in the environs of Bath, and what a spectacular view they would have experienced once they attained the peak. Thanks again Vic for your wonderful research and insights.

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: Guest Bloggers Trina Robbins & Anne Timmons Chat about Gothic Classics: Day 17 Giveaway!

Think of Northanger Abbey in a graphic novel format with all of its energy and Gothic allusions visually popping right off the page, and you will have a good notion of what author Trina Robbins and illustrator Anne Timmons have created in their frightfully enchanting version of Northanger Abbey included in Gothic Classics: Graphic Classics Volume Fourteen. Today both author and illustrator are joining us to chat about their inspiration and the design procession of transforming Jane Austen’s Gothic parody into a graphic novel. Enjoy!  

Writing Jane

by Trina Robbins 

Imagine you’re a Jane Austen fan (not hard to do!) and you write graphic novels — and a publisher asks you to adapt a Jane Austen novel into graphic novel form.  The result, of course, is hog heaven! 

I have actually adapted TWO Jane Austen books into graphic novel form.  The first, about five years ago, was for Scholastic, for their series of graphic novel adaptations for classrooms. I picked one of my two favorite Austen novels, Emma, to adapt into a twenty seven page graphic novel.  But because I was writing for elementary school kids, there were constraints.  Sex does not exist in elementary school rooms, so Harriet could not be a “natural daughter.”  Kids would have wondered what that meant, and any explanations would have produced letters from angry parents.  So I turned her into an orphan.  Emma and Harriet could not be waylaid by gypsies, either, because representing gypsies as criminals is racist, so they simply became a group of rough men who demanded the girl’s purses. 

Nonetheless, I got fan mail from elementary school kids, addressed to “Ms Jane Austen and Ms Trina Robbins,” saying how much they liked the book.  I answered all  the letters, telling the young readers that I was sorry to inform them that Jane Austen had died over two hundred years ago, but that if they liked the comic, perhaps someday they might read the book. 

Then Tom Pomplun, editor of Graphic Classics asked me to adapt Northanger Abbey, which just so happens to be my OTHER favorite Austen novel (Northanger Abbey and Emma are her two funniest!), to be illustrated by Anne Timmons, with whom I’ve worked on so many other comics (including our own series, GoGirl!) that I can call her my partner in crime.  And in forty pages with no constraints! 

Adapting any classic novel (I also adapted Bronte and Dickens for Scholastic) is like solving a delightful puzzle — what to keep, what to leave out. My first step is to buy the oldest, cheapest, most used softcover edition I can find.  I take a highlighter and a black felt-tip marker to it, highlighting the parts I want to keep, blacking out the parts that have to go. I can’t begin to describe how much it goes against the grain for me to mark up a book like that! 

Working with Anne Timmons is a pleasure!  When I describe something, she understands perfectly, and draws exactly what I had in mind.  Northanger Abbey is drawn in a cute and lighthearted style, because that’s the way I see the book.  Catherine is young, naive, and big-eyed.  And she is a hopeless romantic, so some scenes, such as when Catherine runs in tears from Henry, who has just dressed her down because of her suspicions about his father, or when she lies in bed weeping because the General has ordered her to leave in the morning, might have come from some romance comic. 

And Anne, bless her,  understands the fashions!  In the past, I have had dreadful experiences working with male artists (none of whom I chose) who never looked at the reams of fashion reference I always send with my scripts, obviously thinking that if you drew the female characters in long skirts, that was good enough.  And you know how important the right clothes are in a Jane Austen novel!  I’m sure we all agree that the worst Austen movie adaptation ever was that Greer Garson Pride and Prejudice, where for some bizarre reason, the producers decided to change the time period to the 1840s or 1850s. 

Currently, Anne and I are working on an adaptation of Little Women, for the same publisher.  I couldn’t be happier!

 

Catherine Morland & Isabella Thorpe read Gothic novels in the
Gothic Classics edition of Northanger Abbey (2007)

Illustrating Jane

By Anne Timmons 

I was just thrilled when Tom Pomplun, publisher of Graphic Classics, asked Trina and I to work on Northanger Abbey! Trina and I have illustrated other books for the Graphic Classics line including a story for their Jack London anthology

I was familiar with Jane Austen’s work but I had never drawn the Regency period before. I did quite a bit of research by Google-ing a lot of the costume websites. There’s a vast array of websites that contain such concise and detailed information. For example, I needed to look up what a carriage would look like in the early 1800’s. And certainly the costumes and interiors needed to be close to that time period. Lots of Northanger Abbey was set in Bath so there’s a lot of the Georgian style of architecture. 

After reading the original story, I received Trina’s adapted script. I laid out the entire story in small roughed out panels, also know as thumbnails. They gave me an idea of what the page would look like. Then I drew the story in pencil. I emailed the files to Trina and Tom to look over. After they gave me suggestions and advice, I inked over the pencils and scanned the finished art. Once the art was a digital file, I could email it to the publisher who did the lettering. 

One of my favorite scenes to draw was the walk at Beechen Cliff. There is a lot of excitement leading up to this moment. The fact that Catherine had to wait for more favorable weather so it would be easy on her clothes and shoes. To finally be able to walk on a dry spring day, (and not be confined indoors), would have been a wonderful experience. In my research, I discovered that the fabrics used in the gowns were often made of muslin – a very thin material. It may have been in layers but not exactly warm enough for cold weather! The Regency period was influenced by the styles of the Roman Empire. Lots of high waists and hair pulled up off the face and neck. Trina’s descriptions offer what the character may look like and I had a great time with the embellishments! 

I also had a lot of fun drawing the scene where Catherine scares herself as she tries to open the cabinet in her room. 

Trina and I are currently working on a graphic novel adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s, Little Women which will be coming out in 2009. I will be, once again in a “Historical Costume Heaven!”       

Further Reading 

  • Read an interview of Trina Robbins at Jazma Online
  • Read a review of Gothic Classics at Publishers Weekly
  • Read a review of Gothic Classics at AustenBlog
  • Visit author Trina Robbins web site
  • Visit illustrator Anne Timmons web site
  • Purchase Gothic Classics: Graphic Classics Volume 14

 

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 17 Giveaway

Gothic Classics: Graphic Classics Volume Fourteen (2007) 

Which includes Northanger Abbey

Adapted by Trina Robbins and illustrated by Anne Timmons 

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of Gothic Classics: Graphic Classics Volume Fourteen (2007) 

Upcoming event posts
Day 18 – Oct 28          Group Read NA Chapters 25-28
Day 19 – Oct 29          Gothically Inspired
Day 20 – Oct 30          Group Read NA Chapters 29-31
Day 21 – Oct 31          Go Gothic Wrap-up

The Sunday Salon: Preview of Oxford World’s Classics: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe: Day 16 Giveaway

Her present life appeared like the dream of a distempered imagination, or like one of those frightful fictions, in which the wild genius of the poets sometimes delighted. Reflection brought only regret, and anticipation terror. How often did she wish to “steal the lark’s wing, and mount the swiftest gale,” that Languedoc and repose might once more be hers! The Mysteries of Udolpho, Chapter 22

Welcome to The Sunday Salon as we discover new books and offer a review or two. Today as we continue to explore Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, I thought it quite timely of Oxford University Press to redesign and release their 1998 edition of Ann Radcliffe’s, The Mysteries of Udolpho during the Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey event here at Austenprose. Readers will kindly recall that it is one of the Gothic novels that character Isabella Thorpe recommends to her new impressionable friend, and our heroine in the making, Catherine Morland. After she quickly devours the book it ‘Gothicizes’ her view of the world, coloring her perception of real-life experiences. Having not read Udolpho myself, I am more than a bit curious about what it contains and have moved it to the top of my book queue on my nightstand. Here is an overview from the publisher’s description. 

A best-seller in its day and a potent influence on Austen, Sade, Poe, and other purveyors of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Gothic horror, The Mysteries of Udolpho remains one of the most important works in the history of European fiction. After Emily St. Aubuert is imprisoned by her evil guardian, Count Montoni, in his gloomy medieval fortress in the Appenines, terror becomes the order of the day. With its dream-like plot and hallucinatory rendering of its characters’ psychological states, The Mysteries of Udolpho is a fascinating challenge to contemporary readers. 

First published in 4 volumes by G. G. and J. Robinson of London in 1794, Mrs. Radcliffe was paid the handsome sum of £500 for her manuscript which would be worth approximately £28,015.00 today or about $44,580.06 in US funds. This amount is impressive, even for a modern day author. I dare say that Jane Austen would have been happy with that sum for her novel Northanger Abbey instead of the £10 that she originally received from Crosby & Co in 1803, only to see it languish on their shelves unpublished for six years before she bought it back. Happily, this novel did not experience such a winding publication history, was an immediate best seller, and has never been out of print. This edition includes an interesting and enjoyable introduction and explanatory notes by Terry Castle, an 18th-century literature authority and Professor of English Literature at Stanford University, textural notes, a select bibliography, and a chronology of Ann Radcliffe. Here is an excerpt from Prof. Castle’s introduction to entice you. 

Perhaps no work in the history of English fiction has been more often caricatured – trivialized, misread, remade as hearsay – than Ann Radcliffe’s late eighteenth-century Gothic classic The Mysteries of Udolpho. Some readers, indeed, will know Radcliffe’s novel only as hearsay: as that delightfully ‘horrid’ book – full of castles and crypts and murdered wives – pressed upon Catherine Morland, the gullible young heroine of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1817), by her Bath friend Isabella Thorpe. After consuming the book in a great reading binge, the impressionable Catherine begins to see the everyday world around her as a kind of Gothic stage-set against which friends and acquaintances metamorphose – absurdly – into outsized Radcliffean villains and victims. The results are amusing: Northanger Abbey remains one of the great spoofs on reading-as-hallucination. But Udolpho itself is mere pretext – the intertextural cliché, or thing already known, upon which Austen builds her chic comedy of misapprehension.  Prof. Terry Castle (vii)

Mayhap Ms. Castle neglected to remember some of Mr. Shakespeare’s works before she crowned Udolpho the most caricatured, trivialized or remade in the history of English literature — but I will overlook the slight! Udolpho is a significant literary achievement, remarkably innovative for its time and profoundly influential even today. It takes a “stout heart” and “nerves fit for sliding panels and tapestry” to tackle its 693 pages, and I plan to work away at it as I can over the next few months. I hope to be totally Gothicized!

Further reading

  • Read about The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  • Read about authoress Ann Ward Radcliffe
  • Read about the ‘Northanger Canon’ at Jane Austen in Vermont
  • Read about the ‘Horrid’ novels in Northanger Abbey by James Jenkins
  • Read about the Long Publishing History of Northanger Abbey at Jane Austen’s World
  • Check out this biography on Ann Radcliffe, The Mistress of Udolpho, by Rictor Norton

 

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 16 Giveaway

Oxford Word’s Classics edition of The Mysteries of Udolpho (2008)

By Ann Radcliffe 

Oxford University Press (2008). The new re-designed edition includes a full unabridged text of The Mysteries of Udolpho, an introduction by Terry Castle and loads of great supplemental material. A nice compact medium sized edition with textural notes, biography and chronology on the author, and explanatory notes 

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of The Mysteries of Udolpho (2008), by Ann Radcliffe

 (US residents only) 

Upcoming event posts
Day 17 – Oct 27          Guest Blog – Gothic Classics Volume 14
Day 18 – Oct 28          Group Read NA Chapters 25-28
Day 19 – Oct 29          NA & MU Resources
Day 20 – Oct 30          Group Read NA Chapters 29-31

Northanger Abbey Chapters 22-24: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 15 Giveaway

It was a narrow winding path through a thick grove of old Scotch firs; and Catherine, struck by its gloomy aspect, and eager to enter it, could not, even by the general’s disapprobation, be kept from stepping forward. He perceived her inclination, and having again urged the plea of health in vain, was too polite to make further opposition. He excused himself, however, from attending them: “The rays of the sun were not too cheerful for him, and he would meet them by another course.” He turned away; and Catherine was shocked to find how much her spirits were relieved by the separation. The shock, however, being less real than the relief, offered it no injury; and she began to talk with easy gaiety of the delightful melancholy which such a grove inspired. The Narrator, Chapter 22 

Quick Synopsis 

Poor Catherine! Her rolls of paper prove to be an ancient, but innocent laundry list. She reproaches herself for her actions the previous night, and blames them on Henry for exciting her imagination. Henry leaves for three days business at Woodston. Eleanor, Catherine and General Tilney take a walk as he proceeds to give her the tour of the grounds. They reach a shaded walk which he prefers not to take offering to meet up with them later. Catherine thinks that this is mysterious since Eleanor has shared that it was her mother’s favorite walk. Catherine asks her about her mother and secretly suspects that the General had a hand in her early death. Catherine is collecting proof in her mind of his guilt. He conducts the tour of the inside of the Abbey, but they are not permitted in Mrs. Tilney’s rooms. More proof of his guilt. On Sunday, they attend service and Catherine notices a monument to Mrs. Tilney next to their pew. She suspects that it does not contain her body, and that Mrs. Tilney is actually alive and imprisoned by her evil husband who visits her at odd hours in the tower. She and Eleanor make a secret attempt to visit her mother’s rooms and are interrupted by General Tilney. Horrified, Catherine runs to her room in terror. The next day, she is determined to go to Mrs. Tilney’s room to see for herself where the horror took place. She finds it very disappointing since it is nicely furnished and nothing amiss. Feeling foolish, she hears footsteps on the stairs and is met by Henry who has returned early. He questions why she is there, she explains and he asks her to consider the dreadful nature of her suspicions and consult her own sense of the probable. “Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?” Ashamed of her own ‘horrid’ assumptions, she runs to her room in tears.

Musings

I laughed heartily when Catherine discovers, much to her profound disappointment that the rolled papers do not contain family secrets, but ancient laundry bills. So much for discovering Gothic-like mysteries. Ashamed of her actions, her immediate reaction is to blame Henry for exciting her imagination with a description of the ebony chest in her rooms the previous day. I love how her first thoughts are of Henry. He is becoming her guide to proper behavior.

How could she have so imposed on herself? Heaven forbid that Henry Tilney should ever know her folly! And it was in a great measure his own doing, for had not the cabinet appeared so exactly to agree with his description of her adventures, she should never have felt the smallest curiosity about it. This was the only comfort that occurred. Impatient to get rid of those hateful evidences of her folly, those detestable papers then scattered over the bed, she rose directly, and folding them up as nearly as possible in the same shape as before, returned them to the same spot within the cabinet, with a very hearty wish that no untoward accident might ever bring them forward again, to disgrace her even with herself. The Narrator, Chapter 22

I like how Catherine can check herself and not dwell on it. Though I suspect that since this adventure did not produce any Gothic drama, she will continue to seek out more. She begins to try to find a Gothic storyline or hidden meaning behind everything in the Abbey. As she walks in the gardens with Eleanor and General Tilney, she is suspicious when the General chooses not to take a shady path. Eleanor is particularly fond of this spot since it was her mother’s favorite walk and her memory endears it to her. Catherine reflects to herself why the memory does not endear it to the General and why he will not walk there. When Catherine and Eleanor walk alone, Catherine is able to dig deeper into mysterious death (in her mind) of Mrs. Tilney by asking Eleanor questions. There is a portrait of her mother which hangs in Eleanor’s rooms because her father did not care for it. More proof of his aversion to his wife. When they re-enter the Abbey, General Tilney continues the tour for Catherine through every room describing the furnishing and history, though “she cared for no furniture of a more modern date than the fifteenth century.” They show her the majority of the rooms, but “she could scarcely believe it, or overcome the suspicion of there being many chambers secreted” and later “by passing through a dark little room, owning Henry’s authority, and strewed with his litter of books, guns, and greatcoats.” (Oh this remark made me love Henry all the more! His rooms strewn with his stuff. LOL.) When they reach the upper rooms, Eleanor wants to show Catherine her mother’s rooms, but General Tilney stops her claiming she would have not interest there. Catherine further suspects foul play that “left him to the stings of conscience.” Later, when Catherine and Eleanor are alone, she expresses a wish to see Mrs. Tilney’s room and Eleanor agrees. She continues to collect clues, sleuthing out the mysterious death of Mrs. Tilney.

And how long ago may it be that your mother died?” 

“She has been dead these nine years.” And nine years, Catherine knew, was a trifle of time, compared with what generally elapsed after the death of an injured wife, before her room was put to rights. “You were with her, I suppose, to the last?” 

“No,” said Miss Tilney, sighing; “I was unfortunately from home. Her illness was sudden and short; and, before I arrived it was all over.” 

Catherine’s blood ran cold with the horrid suggestions which naturally sprang from these words. Could it be possible? Could Henry’s father – ? And yet how many were the examples to justify even the blackest suspicions! Catherine Morland and Eleanor Tilney, Chapter 23

Later that night, when General Tilney excuses himself early from his guests needing to read government pamphlets, Catherine is convinced it is for some other dubious propose, possibly to visit Mrs. Tilney who is locked in a tower and feed her course food. She reflects that only today she might have been within feet of the forbidden gallery and the cell in which Mrs. Tilney had languished.

The suddenness of her reputed illness, the absence of her daughter, and probably of her other children, at the time – all favoured the supposition of her imprisonment. Its origin – jealousy perhaps, or wanton cruelty – was yet to be unravelled. The Narrator, Chapter 23

The next day at church service, she sees an elegant monument to Mrs. Tilney with a virtuous epitaph of a consoling husband placed in front of the family pew. Catherine is amazed that General Tilney can bear to be so unmoved in its presence or even enter the chapel. But then she remembered that many are unaffected by their murderous deeds, and go about their business unaffected. The monument can mean nothing. She knows from reading how a “supposititious funeral” can be carried on. With the General off on his morning walk, Eleanor agrees to show Catherine her mother’s apartments, but first her portrait in her room, which is quite elegant but surprisingly does not resemble her children. They move on to Mrs. Tilney’s rooms and are stopped again by General Tilney. Horrified, Catherine flees to her chamber in terror for her friend. The next day, Catherine is determined to attempt a visit to Mrs. Tilney’s rooms alone before Henry’s return on the morrow. She enters the rooms. There is nothing odd or amiss, and not what she expected. Astonishment and then shame rack her.

She was sick of exploring, and desired but to be safe in her own room, with her own heart only privy to its folly; and she was on the point of retreating as softly as she had entered, when the sound of footsteps, she could hardly tell where, made her pause and tremble. The Narrator, Chapter 24

It is Henry ascending the stairs, and as surprised as she is at their meeting. What transpires is one of my favorite dialogues between them which I encourage you to read again. She is caught snooping about, and he knows it. She tries to explain herself, but digs herself deeper when she reveals her reasons. Instead of laughing at her, (and it does all sound unbelievably presumptuous and naïve), he firmly questions her.

“If I understand you rightly, you had formed a surmise of such horror as I have hardly words to – Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?” Henry Tilney, Chapter 24

Indeed! This must be a stinging bite to poor Catherine, who previously admitted that Henry always knows best! She just forgot to use the Henry meter of good taste and proper deportment before she went a bit Gothic crazy on him in his three day absence! ;)

We shall see if he forgives her.

Online text of Northanger Abbey complements of Molland’s Circulating-library

Group reading schedule  

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 15 Giveaway

Jane Austen Entertains: Music from her own library (2007) 

Music CD by various arts

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of Jane Austen Entertains: Music from her own library (2007) (US residents only) 

Upcoming event posts
Day 16 – Oct 26          Book Preview – OWC Udolpho
Day 17 – Oct 27          Guest Blog – Gothic Classics Volume 14
Day 18 – Oct 28          Group Read NA Chapters 25-28
Day 19 – Oct 29          NA & MU Resources

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Northanger Abbey Chapters 18-21: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 13 Giveaway

“Psha! My dear creature,” she replied, “do not think me such a simpleton as to be always wanting to confine him to my elbow. It would be hideous to be always together; we should be the jest of the place. And so you are going to Northanger! I am amazingly glad of it. It is one of the finest old places in England, I understand. I shall depend upon a most particular description of it.” Isabella Thorpe, Chapter 18 

Quick Synopsis 

After two or three day absence from each other Catherine and Isabella meet at the pump-room. Isabella confides that her brother John is in love with Catherine and wants Isabella to speak on his behalf. Astonished, Catherine denies encouraging him. Isabella agrees that it was “a very foolish, imprudent business” since neither have money to live on. She does not wish her to sacrifice her happiness to oblige her brother. Captain Tilney arrives and Isabella flirts with him. Catherine is concerned for her brother James, convinced that Captain Tilney must not be aware of their engagement. She asks Henry Tilney to talk to his brother. He tells her that Isabella and James are the best judges of their own relationship. Catherine departs Bath and travels to Northanger Abbey with the Tilney’s. On the way Henry excites her passion for Gothic novels by teasingly describing plots and comparing them to Northanger Abbey to heighten her anticipation. When she arrives, it is not the ancient edifice, but less what her fancy had portrayed. On her first night, a storm howls outside and she investigates an ancient chest.

Musings

Even though Catherine has begun to mature from her experiences in Bath, she is still unschooled in the ways of courting and love. When her friend Isabella tells her that her brother John is in love with her and that she has encouraged him in his attentions to her, she is astonished. When she “solemnly protest that no syllable of such a nature ever passed between” them, Isabella credits her to a little harmless flirting and quickly acquits her because it is “a very foolish, imprudent business” since neither of them have any money to live on. So the real reason comes out! Isabella fulfills her obligation to promote her brother’s case to Catherine and in the same turn lets her know that she can not pursue him because of their finances. Obviously Isabella is not one of those virtuous females that marry for love alone, even though she has proclaimed the opposite during her engagement to James. More Thorpe double talk. I knew something was up with her when she quoted Tilney twice in her conversation with Catherine and was not surprised when he showed up and sat next to her. We quickly learn that there is much more between them as they brazenly flirt with each other to Catherine’s amazement and distress.

She wished Isabella had talked more like her usual self, and not so much about money, and had not looked so well pleased at the sight of Captain Tilney. How strange that she should not perceive his admiration! Catherine longed to give her a hint of it, to put her on her guard, and prevent all the pain which her too lively behaviour might otherwise create both for him and her brother. The Narrator, Chapter 18

Confused by Isabella and Captain Tilney’s flirtation and concerned for her brother James, she entreats Henry Tilney to speak to his brother convinced that he is not aware of their engagement. When he assures her that “He knows what he is about, and must be his own master“, he also gently reminds Catherine that if his brother’s attention to Miss Thorpe give her brother pains then who is to blame, his brother for giving them, or Isabella for encouraging them? He understands that she is in love with James, but flirts with his brother. “No man is offended by another man’s admiration of the woman he loves; it is the woman only who can make it a torment.” Catherine continues to question Henry intent that he knows the answers to his brother’s actions. He assures her he does not know his heart and can only conjecture. She is still uneasy and asks that their father General Tilney be made aware and intercede. His response is so sophisticated and kind to her I was touched.

I will not say, ‘Do not be uneasy,’ because I know that you are so, at this moment; but be as little uneasy as you can. You have no doubt of the mutual attachment of your brother and your friend; depend upon it, therefore, that real jealousy never can exist between them; depend upon it that no disagreement between them can be of any duration. Their hearts are open to each other, as neither heart can be to you; they know exactly what is required and what can be borne; and you may be certain that one will never tease the other beyond what is known to be pleasant.” Henry Tilney, Chapter 19

I think that he is projecting his own personal perspective upon this couple, since I doubt that Isabella would ever be capable of an open heart. I was satisfied with his answer and Catherine was determined to think that Henry Tilney knew best (smart girl), blamed herself for her fears, and resolved to not dwell upon it again, moving on to her visit to Northanger Abbey.

They set off at the sober pace in which the handsome, highly fed four horses of a gentleman usually perform a journey of thirty miles: such was the distance of Northanger from Bath, to be now divided into two equal stages. Catherine’s spirits revived as they drove from the door; for with Miss Tilney she felt no restraint; and, with the interest of a road entirely new to her, of an abbey before, and a curricle behind, she caught the last view of Bath without any regret, and met with every milestone before she expected it. The Narrator, Chapter 20

So Catherine begins her second journey of enlightenment as she departs Bath and is placed in the care of the Tilney’s. And what excellent hands she is under as Austen clearly shows her preference for our dashing hero.

But the merit of the curricle did not all belong to the horses; Henry drove so well – so quietly – without making any disturbance, without parading to her, or swearing at them: so different from the only gentleman-coachman whom it was in her power to compare him with! And then his hat sat so well, and the innumerable capes of his greatcoat looked so becomingly important! To be driven by him, next to being dancing with him, was certainly the greatest happiness in the world. The Narrator, Chapter 20

That other gentleman-coachman is of course that crude and boisterous fellow John Thorpe, who we thankfully know she has no interest in. So, Catherine thinks that dancing with Henry and driving with him is the greatest happiness in the world, just wait dear one until he speaks with you along the road on a topic near to your heart that you both share, Gothic novels. This is one my favorite conversations in the novel between them as he teases and incites her imagination, heightening her anticipation of the ancient edifice that she has longed to visit, Northanger Abbey.

“You have formed a very favourable idea of the abbey.” 

“To be sure, I have. Is not it a fine old place, just like what one reads about?” 

“And are you prepared to encounter all the horrors that a building such as ‘what one reads about’ may produce? Have you a stout heart? Nerves fit for sliding panels and tapestry?” Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland, Chapter 20

He suggestively asks her if she has a stout heart and steady nerves? “Will not your mind misgive you when you find yourself in this gloomy chamber? Will not your heart sink within you?” She denies that this will happen to her. Henry continues to talk of haunted chambers with doors that do not lock, and Catherine is gleeful because it is just like the book. She recollects herself and is certain that Miss Tilney would not put her in such a room as he describes. When they reach Northanger Abbey, the view was not as grand nor the road “without obstacle, alarm, or solemnity of any kind, struck her as odd and inconsistent.” The Abbey is not the old edifice that she had envisioned, “less what her fancy had portrayed“, the furniture and decoration modern, lacking dirt and cobwebs, and the difference was very distressing. Her chamber is comfortable and well appointed with a high old fashioned ebony chest similar to the one that Henry described that very day. She is determined to discover what is inside its locked contents. With a storm raging outside, the winds howling and one candlestick to light her way she investigates the chest working the lock for sometime before she succeeds to reveal the inner drawers.

but at length it did open; and not vain, as hitherto, was her search; her quick eyes directly fell on a roll of paper pushed back into the further part of the cavity, apparently for concealment, and her feelings at that moment were indescribable. Her heart fluttered, her knees trembled, and her cheeks grew pale. She seized, with an unsteady hand, the precious manuscript, for half a glance sufficed to ascertain written characters; and while she acknowledged with awful sensations this striking exemplification of what Henry had foretold, resolved instantly to peruse every line before she attempted to rest. The Narrator, Chapter 21

Poor Catherine. I fear that Henry has so pumped up her expectations and fueled her Gothic imagination that she is sure to be disappointed. We shall see.

  • On line text of Northanger Abbey complements of Molland’s Circulating-library
  • Group reading schedule 
  • Read Northanger Abbey Summary: Chapters 15-21
  • Read Northanger Abbey Quotes & Quips: Chapters 15-21

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 13 Giveaway

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey Stage Play (2005) 

Adapted for the stage by Tim Luscombe

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey Stage Play, by Tim Luscombe (US residents only)

Upcoming event posts
Day 14 – Oct 22         Book Review – OWC NA
Day 15 – Oct 23         Group Read NA Chapters 22-24
Day 16 – Oct 26         Book Preview – OWC Udolpho
Day 17 – Oct 27         Guest Blog – Gothic Classics Volume 14

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: Catherine Morland’s Experience in Bath Part 3

 

if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village,
she must seek them abroad
 

Lower Assembly Rooms and Bath Society

at Jane Austen’s World 

Discover the Lower Rooms in Bath where Catherine Morland the heroine of Northanger Abbey is introduced by the Master of Ceremonies James King to “a very gentlemanlike young man” Henry Tilney and he engages her for her first dance in Bath. Learn all about the history of the Lower Rooms and the social etiquette that they were governed under in Ms. Place’s (Vic) excellent blog on The Lower Rooms and Bath Society at her lovely blog, Jane Austen’s World. Please join us next week when she writes about the delights of walking with Eleanor and Henry Tilney on Beechen Hill. Thanks Vic!

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: Guest Blogger James Jenkins of Valancourt Books Chats About Horrid Novels: Day 12 Giveaway

Please join us today as James Jenkins, Gothic fiction authority and publisher of Valancourt Books chats with us today about the Gothic novels that influenced Jane Austen to write her novel Northanger Abbey, and the seven “horrid novels” recommended by her character Isabella Thorpe to our young heroine in the making Catherine Morland. 

” ‘Valancourt? and who was he?’ cry the young people. Valancourt, my dears, was the hero of one of the most famous romances which ever was published in this country. The beauty and elegance of Valancourt made your young grandmammas’ gentle hearts to beat with respectful sympathy. He and his glory have passed away. Ah, woe is me that the glory of novels should ever decay… Inquire at Mudie’s, or the London Library, who asks for ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ now? Have not even ‘The Mysteries of Paris’ ceased to frighten? Alas! our best novels are but for a season…” - William Makepeace Thackeray 

“Dear creature! how much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read The Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.”

“Have you, indeed! How glad I am! – What are they all?”

“I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocket-book. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time.”

“Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?”

“Yes, quite sure; for a particular friend of mine, a Miss Andrews, a sweet girl, one of the sweetest creatures in the world, has read every one of them.” - Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey 

As can be seen from the two quotes above, from two of the greatest novelists in English, the Gothic genre was tremendously popular and influential in late 18th and early 19th century England.  I am grateful to Laurel Ann for the opportunity to contribute to her blog my thoughts on the Gothic genre, its popularity in Austen’s time, and its continued relevance today.  And, of course, since this is primarily a blog about Jane Austen, I will give a brief introduction to the “horrid novels” mentioned in Northanger Abbey

Brief Overview of the Gothic in Austen’s Era 

The Gothic novel was hugely popular in Jane Austen’s time.  Although it has its roots in Shakespearean plays like Hamlet and Macbeth as well as earlier sources, the Gothic novel really began with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764).  In Otranto, the tyrant Prince Manfred is anxious to continue his family’s rule of Otranto, but his plans are strangely thwarted when his son is inexplicably found crushed to death beneath a giant black helmet.  Left with no son to continue his line, Manfred engages in a series of black deeds, attempting to divorce his wife and rape his son’s fiancée, but is ultimately defeated by a curse, with the principality going to its true owner, the peasant Theodore. 

But although Otranto was extremely popular (and remains so – it has rarely, if ever, been out of print), it did not of itself touch off the explosion of Gothic literature.  It was not till The Old English Baron (1778) appeared and gained popularity that the Gothic became a viable genre.  And some years later, the greatest exponent of Gothic fiction, Ann Radcliffe, made her debut in 1789 with The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne, and went on in the 1790s to pen the runaway bestsellers The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian, which Austen refers to in Northanger Abbey.  Radcliffe’s popularity and influence cannot be overstated.  The extent of her readership can perhaps be best compared to that of another female Gothic author who came almost exactly two centuries later, J. K. Rowling.  As Radcliffe’s novels flew off the shelves, a number of other writers imitated her methods and wrote hundreds of Gothic novels, most of them derivative, but some, like M. G. Lewis’s The Monk (1796), showing remarkable talent and imagination.  The Gothic continued to be the dominant genre in popular fiction through the first two decades of the 19th century, gradually petering out around the time Austen’s Northanger Abbey was finally published in 1818.  Most scholars consider Charles Robert Maturin’s extravagant masterpiece Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) to mark the end of the Gothic genre, although in reality the Gothic did not die: it merely adapted into new genres-penny dreadfuls like Varney the Vampyre (1847) and the later Victorian sensation and detective novels by authors like Le Fanu, Wilkie Collins, and Richard Marsh. 

“Valancourt” and Valancourt Books 

What is strange, though, is that despite the incredible popularity of Gothic novels in their own day and the resurgence of scholarly interest in the Gothic in the late 20th century, the vast majority of these works remained out of print and accessible only on microfiche or in a few rare book collections.  Fans and students of the Gothic novel could obtain Radcliffe’s works and a small handful of other Gothics in editions from Oxford University Press or Penguin, but after reading these few texts, it was impossible to find others.  It is for this reason that I founded Valancourt Books: to restore access to these wonderful books at affordable prices.  The press is named after Valancourt, the hero of Radcliffe’s Udolpho (and also the name of my cat), and is also inspired by the Thackeray quote above.  We believe that the great novels of the past still have the power to thrill and interest modern readers and should remain in print.  The press was founded in late 2004 and now has nearly 70 titles in print, including not only Gothic novels, but also rare sensation and supernatural novels from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

The Northanger Abbey Horrid Novels 

Until early in the 20th century, critics assumed that Austen had invented the titles of the “horrid novels” in order to satirize similarly (and extravagantly) titled Gothic novels.  How was it possible only 80 years or so after Austen’s death that the world could have forgotten that the horrid novels had ever existed?  It has to do partly with the way in which popular fiction was created and consumed in Austen’s time.  Few people at that time could afford to purchase their own books, so most people subscribed for a small fee to a circulating library, which stocked all the current popular fiction, just as our free public libraries do today.  While today most books are published in a single volume, in Austen’s time, novels were divided up over three or four volumes (or sometimes as many as seven!).  This enabled multiple borrowers at a circulating library to be reading the same novel at the same time.  We know this is how Austen herself read the horrid novels, for she writes in her journal that, “Father is reading the Midnight Bell, which he has got from the library, and mother sitting by the fire.”  Presumably she read it after he had finished.  But unfortunately, the horrid novels, like other popular fiction of the period, were passed from hand to hand so many times and were constructed of fairly flimsy materials, such that the books were literally read to pieces and discarded. 

However, in the early 20th century, it was discovered that the horrid novels really existed, and Michael Sadleir was the first to acquire the complete set, when he finally tracked down the most elusive of the seven, Eleanor Sleath’s The Orphan of the Rhine (1798).  In the 1920s, Montague Summers attempted to republish the whole set, but only two of the novels ever appeared.  In 1968, Devendra Varma oversaw an edition of the seven novels, published by the Folio Press and now virtually unobtainable.  Valancourt Books is now in the process of republishing these seven elusive works; five have already appeared. 

Critics have differed on Austen’s purpose in selecting these seven novels for mention in Northanger Abbey.  Most critics argue that she was simply ridiculing them.  I think, though, this is a short-sighted view.  If she had merely wanted to express disdain for trashy novels, she could have picked, for example, a truly bad novel like The Animated Skeleton (1798).  In fact, the novels she chose are among the best and most interesting of the Gothic novels.  In some respect, then, we can see Austen as an early literary critic, in singling out the Gothic novels she and her father had read and enjoyed. 

Without further ado, the following are the horrid novels.  The first five are in print in scholarly editions from Valancourt Books; the final two will appear in 2009. 

Castle of Wolfenbach (1793) by Eliza Parsons 

Parsons was comparatively old when she began publishing.  She was driven to write to support her family after her husband died prematurely when his business failed.  She churned out novels and plays in great quantity, including the important early Gothic Castle of Wolfenbach.  In Wolfenbach, young Matilda Weimar’s lecherous uncle tries to rape her, so she flees and takes up residence in a haunted castle.  The castle turns out not to be haunted, after all: the supposed ghost is the Countess of Wolfenbach, shut up for eighteen years by her murderous husband.  As the novel unfolds, both women must avoid their cruel persecutors, and Matilda must uncover her own true parentage so she can marry her lover. 

Clermont (1798) by Regina Maria Roche 

Roche was an Irish novelist who was often compared-not usually favourably-with Radcliffe.  In Clermont, Madeline Clermont lives with her reclusive and mysterious father until she goes to live for a time with his old friend, the Countess de Merville.  But her happiness quickly turns to terror when ruffians attack the gentle Countess, and Madeline is assaulted in a gloomy crypt. And to make matters worse, a sinister stranger appears, threatening to reveal the bloody truth of Clermont’s past unless Madeline marries him. Can she avoid the snares of her wily pursuers, solve the mystery of her father’s past, and win the love of her dear De Sevignie? 

The Mysterious Warning (1796) by Eliza Parsons 

The good old Count Renaud is dead, and his will makes the degenerate Rhodophil his heir, disinheriting his other son Ferdinand, who has married against his father’s wishes. Rhodophil promises to share his new riches with his younger brother and his wife Claudina, but Ferdinand hears a mysterious voice from beyond the grave, warning him to flee his brother and his wife to save himself from sin and death! 

Ferdinand obeys the supernatural warning and sets out to find fortune and adventure. In the course of his quest he will encounter a recluse in a ruined castle with a horrible secret, find himself captured and imprisoned by the Turkish army, and encounter one of Gothic literature’s most depraved female characters, the monstrous Fatima. 

The Necromancer; or, The Tale of the Black Forest (1794) by “Peter Teuthold” 

The Necromancer is a translation of various German stories, spliced together, and consists of a series of interconnected tales, all centering on the enigmatic figure of Volkert the Necromancer. Filled with murder, ghosts, and dark magic, and featuring a delirious and dizzying plot that almost defies comprehension, The Necromancer is one of the strangest horror novels ever written. “For magniloquent descriptions of ‘horrid’ episodes, for sheer stylistic fervour in the handling of the supernatural, the work can rank high among its contemporaries.” Michael Sadlier

 

The Midnight Bell (1798) by Francis Lathom 

Young Alphonsus Cohenburg enters his mother’s bedroom and finds her covered in blood. She tells him his uncle has murdered his father, and orders him to flee Cohenburg castle forever to save his own life! A disconsolate exile, Alphonsus wanders the earth seeking the means of survival, first as a soldier, then a miner, and finally as sacristan of a church, where he meets the beautiful Lauretta. They wed and establish a home together, and everything seems to promise them a happy future. But their domestic tranquillity is shattered, when a band of ruffians kidnaps the unfortunate Lauretta! Alphonsus must solve the mystery of Lauretta’s disappearance and the riddle of his mother’s strange conduct. And when he hears that ghosts inhabit Cohenburg castle, tolling the great bell each night at midnight, the mystery only deepens…. 

One of the most prolific authors of the time, and arguably the first queer novelist, Lathom is a fascinating figure who has been unfortunately neglected. 

Horrid Mysteries (1796) by Karl Grosse 

Perhaps the best description of this novel is that of Professor Fred Frank, who wrote, “Certainly no novel to survive from the Gothic period is stranger, darker, or more precipitously irrational than Horrid Mysteries.  Its convolutions of plot are matched by a grim potency of style as found in the memorable descriptions of Elmira’s enforced containment in a coffin during one of her three deaths.”  As Sadleir wrote, it is “a strange, wild work, dealing unashamedly in the supernatural, written with a lurid if inconsequent power…certainly it is the most defiantly fantastic of any novel of the period.” 

The Orphan of the Rhine (1798) by Eleanor Sleath 

Sleath is perhaps the most mysterious of the Northanger novelists.  Virtually nothing is known of her, except that she published five novels, all of them rather long, in addition to a children’s book called Glenowen; or, The Fairy Palace (1814), which has been called the first sustained fantasy story for children in English.  

In Orphan of the Rhine, the young orphans Laurette and Enrico set out for the Castle of Elfinbach to solve the mystery of their parentage.  Heavily influenced by Radcliffe, and consisting of a number of inset narratives, Orphan was summed up by Sadleir as “a strangely attractive absurdity, which excites a sort of sugary fascination over the reader.” 

James Jenkins

Valancourt Books 

Thanks James for a great introduction to Gothic fiction and its influence on author Jane Austen. I am looking forward to the publication next year of the last two novels in the ‘Northanger Horrid Novels’, Orphan of the Rhine and Horrid Mysteries. Readers will be interested to know that you can also purchase the other three Gothic novels mentioned in Northanger Abbey, The Italian through Valancourt books, and The Monk and The Mysteries of Udolpho published by Oxford Univeristy Press. 

Further Reading

  • Visit Valancourt Books
  • Read my post “All They All Horrid?” on the Gothic novels in Northanger Abbey
  • Read about the ‘Northanger Horrid Novels’, at Wikipedia
  • Read about The Castle of Otranto and The Mysteries of Udolpho by Margaret (Mags) Sullivan
  • Check out The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction (2002)  

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 12 Giveaway

The Mysterious Warning

by Eliza Parsons, Valancourt Books (2007) 

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of Eliza Parson’s The Mysterious Warning, published by Valancourt Books (2007) (US residents only) 

Upcoming event posts
Day 13 – Oct 21          Group Read NA Chapters 18-21
Day 14 – Oct 22          Book Review – OWC NA
Day 15 – Oct 23          Group Read NA Chapters 22-24
Day 16 – Oct 26          Book Preview – OWC Udolpho

Northanger Abbey: Naxos AudioBooks (2006) Read by Juliet Stevenson: Day 11 Giveaways

It is believed that Jane Austen wrote many of her first works for the entertainment of her family and would read them aloud for their opinions and enjoyment. It is not hard to imagine that Northanger Abbey was presented to her family in this manner. The language and phrasing lends itself so freely to the spoken word almost like a stage play, that I was quite certain that an audio book would be a great enhancement to the text. Add to that the talent of a creative narrator and you have a great combination for several hours of entertainment ahead of you. 

I adore audio books and listen to them in the car during my commute to work.  It is a great time to tune out the traffic, clear my head, and get lost in a good story. When I decided that I wanted to listen to an audio version of Northanger Abbey I discovered that there were three new unabridged audio editions that had been produced in the last two years to choose from. The first Blackstone Audiobooks (2007) was read by Nadia May, the second by Tantor Media (2006) and read by Donada Peters, and the third by Naxos AudioBooks (2006) and read Juliet Stevenson. The first two readers appeared to be professional narrators specializing in the classics with a diverse range of authors, and the third Juliet Stevenson is a well known British stage and screen actress, whose performance as the acerbic Mrs. Elton in the 1996 movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma was so hilarious, that I knew she would be an excellent choice to read the novel with the extra bit of animation that I desired. 

Ms. Stevenson did not disappoint and far exceeded my expectations. She added just the right amount of irony and humor to the reading of Northanger Abbey that no one would be in doubt that it is a burlesque on the sensational Gothic fiction or other overly sentimental novels popular in Jane Austen’s day. Her choice of characterizations was imaginative and captivating. Hearing her interpretation of the emptiness of Mrs. Allen and her frivolous distinction for fashion, Isabella Thorpe and her shallow endearments, and Henry Tilney with his knack for reading and adapting to different personalities with wit and charm, I have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the novel.

I was happy to learn that Naxos AudioBooks has made quite a solid commitment to present quality productions of all of Jane Austen’s six major novels in unabridged and abridged formats. You can read about all of their recordings on their excellent web site and listen to a PodCast of an interview of Juliet Stevenson as she discusses her involvement in the audio recordings and her affinity to Jane Austen. Of note is the free download for this month of Feuille D’Album, an 1917 short story by Katherine Mansfield and read by Juliet Stevenson.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 11 Giveaway

 

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen 

Naxos AudioBooks (2006), Read by Juliet Stevenson 

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one unabridged, and one abridged copy of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey read by Juliet Stevenson, Naxos AudioBooks (2006)

(US residents only) 

Upcoming event posts
Day 12 – Oct 20          Guest Blog – Valancourt Books
Day 13 – Oct 21          Group Read NA Chapters 18-21
Day 14 – Oct 22          Book Review – OWC NA
Day 15 – Oct 23          Group Read NA Chapters 22-24