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

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

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

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: Guest Blogger Amanda Grange Chats about Henry Tilney’s Diary

Austen-esque author Amanda Grange kicks off our guests bloggers during ‘Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey’ event as she joins us today to chat about a very important topic; possibly the most important topic to many – Henry Tilney – who is the protagonist of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and the hero of her next novel Henry Tilney’s Diary. This highly anticipated novel will complete her Austen hero’s series that started with Mr. Darcy’s Diary in 2005, unless she changes her mind and gives Sense and Sensibility‘s co-hero Edward Ferrars his due. Hint ;) Hint ;)

Amanda Grange on Henry Tilney’s Diary

I’m very pleased to be invited to Austenprose during the Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey event because at the moment Northanger Abbey is much in my mind. I’m writing Henry Tilney’s Diary which is, of course, a retelling of Northanger Abbey from Henry’s point of view. Those people who have read my other diaries –  Mr Darcy’s Diary, Mr Knightley’s Diary, Captain Wentworth’s Diary, Edmund Bertram’s Diary, Colonel Brandon’s Diary – will know that I like to stick close to the original novels but present them from a new viewpoint, filling out the back stories and adding what I hope are new insights along the way. 

I knew before I started it that Henry Tilney’s Diary would be the most complex diary to write because Northanger Abbey is, arguably, Austen’s most complex novel. Not only does it have Austen’s hallmarks of social satire, keen observation, brilliant characterisation, etc, it also has her wittiest hero, and on top of that it parodies the Gothic novel. I knew I would have to try and capture all these element in the diary. 

Those who have been following my progress on Historical Romance UK will know that I decided to use some passages from The Mysteries of Udolpho in the diary because I wanted to give modern readers a taste of the kind of Gothic novels that were popular in Austen’s day. Some readers are already familiar with Udolpho, of course – including readers of Austenprose! – but others have never read it, and I didn’t want them to miss out on the unique flavour of the eighteenth and nineteenth century Gothics. 

Having decided to include some passages from Udolpho, I then had to come up with a way of working it into the diary. The solution to this problem came in Chapter 14 of Northanger Abbey

“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.” (said Henry)

“Yes,” added Miss Tilney, “and I remember that you undertook to read it aloud to me, and that when I was called away for only five minutes to answer a note, instead of waiting for me, you took the volume into the Hermitage Walk, and I was obliged to stay till you had finished it.”  

I knew at once that I would include this incident in the diary. It is such a revealing incident that I would probably have included it anyway, because it shows Henry at his most human and charming whilst also showing his good relationship with Eleanor. But it lends itself perfectly to my desire to include extracts from Udolpho

I decided that I would then make the incident work even harder for its place in the diary, because I would use it, not only to show Henry and Eleanor’s characters, their good relationship, and the prose of Mrs Radcliffe, I would also use it as a bonding experience with Eleanor’s suitor. 

Eleanor’s suitor is one of the elements of the backstory I am going to flesh out. He isn’t mentioned until the end of the book, but in fact she has known him for a long time. As she loves Gothic novels I thought it likely that he would love them as well. My picture of him was hazy at first and I had to think more carefully about the things I knew so that I could develop him as a real person. He had no money –  so where could Eleanor have met him? I decided she would meet him at the Abbey, because it’s such an integral part of the book. But what would he be doing there? 

There are a lot of ways I could have done it, but this is what happened when I started to write: 

Friday 

It was late. My father was holding forth in the drawing-room; Frederick’s friends were carousing in the billiard room; and so Eleanor and I took refuge in the library. We had just begun to talk when there was an embarrassed cough and Mr Thomas Stannyard stepped out from behind one of the bookcases. 

It was an awkward moment. He had evidently been in the library when we arrived and he had unwittingly overheard our conversation. But instead of laughing and blustering and making some ribald remark, as befitted one of Frederick’s friends, he blushed and fingered his collar and muttered his apologies, adding that he had come into the library to look for a book. 

This so astounded Eleanor and I that we looked at each other and then turned our eyes back towards him to discover that he was indeed holding a book. 

‘The antics in the billiard-room are not to your taste?’ hazarded my sister.

‘No, I am afraid not,’ he said apologetically.

‘What book have you found?’ I asked.

He looked embarrassed and muttered something under his breath.

The Mysteries of Udolpho!’ exclaimed Eleanor.

‘I have a partiality for Gothic novels,’ he admitted shamefacedly.

‘But this is capital,’ I said. ‘My sister and I like nothing better. Which ones have you read?’

Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, and Necromancer of the Black Forest,’ he said, then added, ‘I must not intrude any longer.’

‘It is no intrusion,’ I assured him.

‘Will you not join us?’ asked Eleanor.

‘If you are sure . . . ‘ he said.

‘We are. Are we not, Henry?’

‘Yes, indeed.’

He took a seat.

‘Forgive me for saying so, but you do not seem like one of my brother’s friends,’ said Eleanor.

‘I . . . uh . . . think it would be more accurate to say that . . . well, to put it frankly . . . that is to say . . . he owes me money.’ 

This is just a rough draft. It might easily change between now and publication, but this is how the characters are developing at the moment. This will then lead into some scenes where the three of them read a Gothic novel together. As there is no mention of Eleanor’s suitor when Henry talks about reading Udolpho in Chapter 14, I will probably have them read one of the other novels. I dare say they will be out walking but then have to hurry inside because of a thunderstorm. With the thunder rolling and the lightning flashing outside, they will read some of the more outrageous passages from one or other of the ‘horrid novels,’ replete with dungeons, chains and strange moaning. 

I might, too, have Henry come upon Catherine and Eleanor reading a horrid novel, so that I can include extracts from yet another ‘horrid novel’, but as I haven’t got to the later part of the diary, and I am at the moment writing the bits that occur before Northanger Abbey begins, that is a decision I won’t take until much later in the year. 

I hope fans of Northanger Abbey will enjoy Henry Tilney’s Diary! 
 
Best wishes,

Mandy

Thanks Amanda for giving us a sneak peek at your next novel Henry Tilney’s Diary which will hopefully be in book stores by late 2009. I am looking forward to the entrance of da man himself, Henry Tilney, and all the Gothic trappings replete with dungeons, chains and strange moaning!

Upcoming event posts
Day 04 – Oct 7             Group Read NA Chapters 4-7
Day 05 – Oct 8             Guest Blog – Diana Birchall
Day 06 – Oct 9             Group Read NA Chapters 8-10
Day 07 – Oct 13           Guest Blog Margaret C. Sullivan

Welcome to Go Gothic with Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey

“but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?”

Welcome, and get ready to Go Gothic with Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Please join us as we investigate the humour, romance, and spooky undertones in Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey, a parody on the Gothic fiction that was so popular within her lifetime. Included will be a group read of Northanger Abbey, guest bloggers, discussion on the 7 novels included in the famous Northanger Cannon, and plenty of great giveaways.

Go Gothic. You’ll never regret it!

Get Ready to Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey Starting October 1st

 

A Great Austen Novel Event Begins Next Wednesday!

Hold on to your bonnets Janeites and Gothic literature fans, cuz Austenprose will be hosting another Austen novel event during the month of October, 2008 in honour of Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey. Please join the 31 day blog event and ‘Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey’ including a group read and discussion of Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey , book and movie reviews, guest bloggers, and tons of free giveaways! 

Here is a partial schedule of the upcoming fun 

Group Read 

OCTOBER 2:  Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen group read begins with chapters 1-3. 

The complete reading schedule can be found here 

Guest Bloggers 

OCTOBER 6: Amanda Grange, author of Mr. Darcy’s Diary and the four other retellings of Jane Austen’s novels from the hero’s perspective is currently writing the last novel in the series, Henry Tilney’s Diary. Read up on all the scoop on the progress on her writing about hero Henry Tilney, inarguably Austen’s most charming and daring wit! Amanda will share her insights on the current novel and include some highlights on scenes and dialogue in this preview of her fabulous new novel! 

OCTOBER 13: Margaret C. Sullivan, author of The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to her World, Editrix of AustenBlog, Tilneys and Trap-doors and Molland’s web sites will be discussing her admittedly partial, and totally prejudiced preference for Northanger Abbey’s hero Henry Tilney, and what makes him Jane Austen’s most dashing and quotable hunk. 

OCTOBER 15: Kali Pappas, Austen fashion authority, web designer and web mistress of The Emma Adaptations Pages will be chatting with us about her favorite subject, fashion, in the two movie adaptations of Northanger Abbey. Find out what this Austenista has to say about all the elegant ball gowns and wild feathered bonnets in these two movie adaptations. 

OCTOBER 20: James D. Jenkins, Gothic fiction authority and publisher of Valancourt Books will be discussing the history of Gothic fiction, renown authors of the genre and the seven novels included in the famous Northanger Cannon that character Isabella Thorpe recommends to heroine Catherine Morland in the novel Northanger Abbey, and the two books that they read, The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian. Find out for yourself if they are all as horrid as Isabella Thorpe claims them to be! 

OCTOBER 27: Writer Trina Robbins, and illustrator Anne Timmons of Graphic Classics Volume 14: Gothic Classics, the graphic novel version of Northanger Abbey and The Mysteries of Udolpho will be talking about their experience adapting and illustrating Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey. Learn all about this wonderful media for young adults and big adults too! 

Giveaways 

Tons of fun stuff! Northanger Abbey editions in print by publishers Barnes & Noble, Penguin, Norton Critical, Broadview, and Oxford University Press, Naxos Audio Books version of Northanger Abbey, Movies, Jane Austen ephemera and gifts, and so much more! 

Don’t miss out on all the great reading, discussion

and fun giveaways, starting October 1st.

 Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey! You won’t regret it!

 

Are they all horrid?

Image of the book cover to The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction (2002)HORRID

“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 pocketbook. 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?” Isabella Thorpe & Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 6

Image of the cover of The Mysteries of Udolpho (1830)This list of Gothic novels that Isabella Thorpe has so expertly compiled and presented to our heroine Catherine Morland is the so called ‘Northanger Canon’. It consists of the the 7 novels on Isabella’s list, and two that are previously read by Catherine and Isabella during the novel; – – The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian. These late 18th-century Gothic novels represent the most popularly sensational and ‘horrid’ of the genre, in Isabella’s influential opinion, and worthy of her young protege’s perusal. The complete list is as follows…

Image of the book cover of The Necromancer (2007)This renown Gothic ‘classics’ list is quite famous in the Jane Austen community. It is believed to represent Austen’s own choice of the best and darkest of the genre, her support of novel reading in general, and an ironic warning of their influence by parodying them in her novel Northanger Abbey. In the post Sublime Anxiety: The Northanger Canon, at Old Grey Pony, you will be interested to learn further about the Gothic canon, and Jane Austen’s interest in them.

Austen herself enjoyed Gothic fiction, especially the work of Ann Radcliffe, but she feared that the excessive romanticism and melodrama of the books incited impressionable girls to ape the manners, coquetry and faux sentimentality of a Gothic heroine, in search of the exciting adventures they found on the page. Seeking the danger and intrigue of a novel in their everyday lives could not but breed insincerity and vanity, and in Northanger, she gives us the portrait of just such a girl in Isabella Thorpe.

Image of the book cover of Clermont, a Tale (2005)This is so insightful. I have often felt that Isabella Thorpe and her brother John are portrayed a bit out of step with proper social behaviour of the time in Northanger Abbey. Isabella is so animated in her dialogue, with her endearments and euphemisms such as “psha nonsense“, “my sweet love“, and “my dear creature“. This was Jane Austen’s way by example of showing gentle readers the affects of what ‘too’ much horrid Gothic can be on a young girl’s impressionable mind! Hah!

Image of the book cover of The Midnight Bell (2007)If you are curious as I am about how these Gothic novels influenced Jane Austen’s writing of Northanger Abbey, you will be interested to know that the good people at Mollands will be having  group read of The Midnight Bell, by Francis Lathom, starting in mid January. You can read about the book and the group read at this post on Austenblog. Check back there for an update on the start date. It is surely to be a lively and horrid discussion, so please join it!

 

*Image of the front cover of the Cambridge Campanion to Gothic Fiction, edited by Jerrold E. Hogle, published by Cambridge Univeristy Press, (2002)