Jane Austen's Emma, Jane Austen's Letters, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen's Persuasion, Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen's Works

Celebrating Jane Austen Day 2014 with 75 Sensational Quotes That Every Janeite Should Not Live Without

Sprinklebakes Jane Austin 12th night cake sprinklebakes.com x 350

Jane Austen-themed Twelfth Night Cake by Sprinkles Bakes

Today is Jane Austen 239th birthday. Born on 16 December 1775 at Steventon Rectory in Hampshire, England, her many admirers have proclaimed her birthday as Jane Austen Day and are celebrating around the world in creative and diverse ways. Continue reading “Celebrating Jane Austen Day 2014 with 75 Sensational Quotes That Every Janeite Should Not Live Without”

Book Reviews, Critiques & Analysis, Editor's Picks, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen's Works

Northanger Abbey: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen, edited by Susan J. Wolfson – A Review

Northanger Abbey An Annotated Edition by Jane Austen edited by Susan J. Wolfson 2014 x 200Harvard University Press is seriously spoiling me. With the release of Northanger Abbey: An Annotated Edition, they have now produced five glitzy coffee table editions of Jane Austen’s major novels. What true Janeite could possibly pass up an unabridged first edition text, an extensive introduction, and notes by an Austen scholar, full-color illustrations, over-sized hardcover format, and copious supplemental material – all wrapped up in a beautifully designed package? Not me!

I have enjoyed all of the editions in this annotated series so far, with only one exception. I am greedy. I want more annotation and was quite annoyed when I turned a page of a previous edition and saw white space in the sidebar columns instead of text. Such a waste when there is so much to write about and Janeites and newbies Continue reading “Northanger Abbey: An Annotated Edition, by Jane Austen, edited by Susan J. Wolfson – A Review”

Book Reviews, Critiques & Analysis, Editor's Picks, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen's Works

The Annotated Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen, annotated & edited by David M. Shapard – A Review

The Annotated Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen and David M. Shaphard (2013)From the desk of Heather Laurence:

And now, Henry,” said Miss Tilney, “that you have made us understand each other, you may as well make Miss Morland understand yourself … Miss Morland is not used to your odd ways.”

“I shall be most happy to make her better acquainted with them.”

Modern readers encountering Northanger Abbey for the first time may find themselves like Catherine Morland:  eager to become better acquainted with the wealth of background information that brings the world of the Morlands, Thorpes, and Tilneys vividly to life. The Annotated Northanger Abbey, annotated and edited by David M. Shapard, is a new resource designed to guide aspiring heroines (and heroes) safely through the perils of obscure Gothic references and identify the treasures – hidden away in Japan cabinets and curricles, of course – that make Northanger Abbey even more enjoyable. Continue reading “The Annotated Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen, annotated & edited by David M. Shapard – A Review”

Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Editor's Pick, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen's Works

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen (Naxos AudioBooks), read by Juliet Stevenson – A Review

Northanger Abbey is the exuberant lesser-known child of Jane Austen’s oeuvre. Even though it was her first novel to be completed and sold in 1803, much to Austen’s bemusement it was never published and languished with Crosby & Co for thirteen years until she bought it back for the ten pounds that the publisher had originally paid. It was finally published posthumously together with Persuasion in late 1817. If its precarious publishing history suggests it lacks merit, I remind readers that in the early 1800’s many viewed novels as lowbrow fare and unworthy of serious consideration. In “defense of the novel” Austen offered Northanger Abbey as both a parody of overly sensational Gothic fiction so popular in the late eighteenth-century and a testament against those opposed to novel reading. Ironically, Austen pokes fun at the critics who psha novel writing by cleverly writing a novel defending novel writing. Phew! In a more expanded view, it is so much more than I should attempt to describe in this limited space but Continue reading “Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen (Naxos AudioBooks), read by Juliet Stevenson – A Review”

Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen's Works

Austen at Large: Oh Henry! What a good Valentine

From the desk of Virginia Claire:

Henry Tilney would be a wonderful Valentine I believe. Not to endorse the completely commercialized holiday but I do want to take this chance to talk about one of my favorite men in Jane Austen’s works. Henry Tilney is delightful from the first time we meet him in Northanger Abbey. He is a dutiful bother which I think says more about his character than almost anything else. He is a reader and an intelligent man. Henry also has a wonderful sense of humor and though he seems to be picking on Catherine and teasing her I think it very believable and endearing. Henry Tilney is the type of young man that many girls want to meet. He is handsome, clever, loyal and funny, an all around great nice guy! Continue reading “Austen at Large: Oh Henry! What a good Valentine”

Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen's Works

Isabella Thorpe as a modern blogger!

Northanger Abbey, Vintage Classics (2008)From the desk of Virginia Claire:

In this past week I have been finishing Northanger Abbey and as wonderful as the romance is in it, I think one of the most important lessons is about friendship. Catherine learns throughout the novel how to better read people, in particular her friends. She starts out completely fooled by Isabella Thorpe. Catherine thinks that they have a mutual friendship while Isabella is most likely just using Catherine to get closer to her brother James. For me Isabella has always been that friend that every young girl has. She is completely self consumed, silly, hyper sensitive and mellow dramatic. (What 16 year old hasn’t known someone like this?). Isabella’s false friendship with Catherine revolves around Gothic novels, shopping and young men. All of which point out, though slowly to Catherine, Isabella’s failure as a true friend. Continue reading “Isabella Thorpe as a modern blogger!”

Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen's Works

Northanger Abbey: Henry Tilney – so becomingly important!

Illustration from Costume Parisien (1818)…in the course of a few minutes, she found herself with Henry in the curricle, as happy a being as ever existed. A very short trial convinced her that a curricle was the prettiest equipage in the world; the chaise and four wheeled off with some grandeur, to be sure, but it was a heavy and troublesome business, and she could not easily forget its having stopped two hours at Petty France. Half the time would have been enough for the curricle, and so nimbly were the light horses disposed to move, that, had not the general chosen to have his own carriage lead the way, they could have passed it with ease in half a minute. 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 on Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 20

Here’s the fangirl romantic tip of the week. Put a man in a greatcoat and half the room sighs. Jane Austen knew this and used it to her advantage, building Catherine Morland’s admiration and our confidence in her hero Henry Tilney. Yes, it was common for a Regency gentleman to own a greatcoat, but why talk about it so seductively?  “His greatcoat looked so becomingly important!” says it all. Authors and screenwriters take heed. Put your heroes in greatcoats whenever you need a romantic punch. Works for me every time.

*Illustration from Costume Parisien 1818

Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen's Works

Catherine Morland is a delight!

Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey (2007)From the desk of Virginia Claire:

In my Jane Austen Seminar this semester we had been talking about Austen’s juvenilia for a while but a now have shifted our focus to Northanger Abbey. It was very interesting looking at the transition between a story like Love and Friendship to Northanger because we can pretty clearly see Austen’s growth as a novelist. I fall in love with Northanger Abbey more and more each time I read it. It is such a wonderful coming of age story. Catherine Morland is a charming heroine though from the very beginning of the novel Austen tells us that “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her.” (Chapter 1).  I love that Austen takes Catherine’s normalcy and turns it around to make her a heroine. For me what is so endearing about Catherine is the fact Continue reading “Catherine Morland is a delight!”

Jane Austen Inspired, Jane Austen's Emma, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen's Persuasion, Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen's Works

Jane Austen and the Seven Deadly Sins: Pride and Vanity

Illustration by CE Brock, Persuasion (1894)Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot’s character; vanity of person and of situation. He had been remarkably handsome in his youth; and, at fifty-four, was still a very fine man. Few women could think more of their personal appearance than he did; nor could the valet of any new made lord be more delighted with the place he held in society. The Narrator on Sir Walter Elliot, Persuasion, Chapter 1 

As a clergyman’s daughter Jane Austen would have been well aware of the significance of the seven deadly sins, those cardinal vices identified by the Catholic church in the 6th- century and later adopted by other Christian religions as the most offensive and serious of sins against god and humanity.  Listed as luxuria (extravagance, later lust), gula (gluttony), avaritia (greed), acedia (sloth), ira (wrath), invidia (envy), and superbia (pride), they were all egregious offenses that would qualify the sinner to at least one foot in hell unless they confessed and were penitent. This collection, though not identified in the Bible, was in the eyes of the church the foundation of moral corruption and considered mortal sins, a most serious offense threatening eternal damnation. Pretty serious stuff.   

Throughout Jane Austen’s novels, her characters exhibit a wide range of qualities from integrity to dissipation and vice making them very realistic, and not unlike people of our own acquaintance or popular renown. One could say that the struggle against the seven deadly sins is the driving force in her plots and one of the main reasons why people connect with them so readily. Her most popular characters Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice are prime examples of two of the deadly sins, the offence of pride and wrath. Though Austen does not condemn them for it (as the church might), their vices are the whole axis of the story.  

Today we shall look at the sin of pride, also known as vanity which was one of Jane Austen’s most popular choices of the seven deadly sins in her novels. Vanity appears 85 times and pride 111 times. Here are a few choice quotations: 

Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief. Emma 

With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of every body’s feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange every body’s destiny. Emma 

Their vanity was in such good order that they seemed to be quite free from it, and gave themselves no airs; while the praises attending such behaviour, secured and brought round by their aunt, served to strengthen them in believing they had no faults. Mansfield Park 

Henry Crawford, ruined by early independence and bad domestic example, indulged in the freaks of a cold-blooded vanity a little too long. Mansfield Park 

Catherine listened with astonishment; she knew not how to reconcile two such very different accounts of the same thing; for she had not been brought up to understand the propensities of a rattle, nor to know to how many idle assertions and impudent falsehoods the excess of vanity will lead. Northanger Abbey 

From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. Northanger Abbey 

In vanity, therefore, she gained but little; her chief profit was in wonder. Northanger Abbey 

It was a struggle between propriety and vanity; but vanity got the better, and then Elizabeth was happy again. Persuasion 

“That is very true,” replied Elizabeth, “and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” Pride and Prejudice 

Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonimously. Pride and Prejudice 

“Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” Pride and Prejudice 

“Yes, vanity is a weakness indeed.” Pride and Prejudice 

If his own vanity, however, did not mislead him, he was the cause, his pride and caprice were the cause. Pride and Prejudice 

The world had made him extravagant and vain — extravagance and vanity had made him cold-hearted and selfish. Sense and Sensibility 

Vanity while seeking its own guilty triumph at the expense of another, had involved him in a real attachment, which extravagance, or at least its offspring, necessity, had required to be sacrificed. Sense and Sensibility 

Of all of Austen’s characters guilty of vanity, Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion is definitely the leading offender. Austen leaves us in no doubt of his priorities in life toward his appearance and how it impacted his family. Mrs. Allen in Northanger Abbey arrives at a distant second being excessively fond of her clothing and constantly commenting on the inferiority of others choice of fabrics and garments. Who would dare dispute that Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice has the most pride since an entire novel stems from it. Mrs. Fanny Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility in my mind is second in offence of pride after Mr. Darcy. She is so arrogant and prideful that she basically evicts her mother-in-law Mrs. Dashwood out of her home after the death of her father-in-law and talks her own husband out of giving them a decent living –  all for her vanity. There are others who come to mind: Miss Elizabeth Elliot in Persuasion who is definitely her father’s daughter, Mrs. Elton in Emma who is arrogance and puffery personified, Miss Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park who thinks herself above the truth, and that tactfully bereft General Tilney in Northanger Abbey who ejects poor Catherine Morland out of his house when he learns that she is not as flush as he thought. The list goes on and on with different degrees of offence, but in the end, we can rest assured that Austen does not treat these offenders lightly, passing her judgment according to propriety and her Christian principles.

Which characters do you find prideful and vain, and do you think that Austen portrayed them correctly?