Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: Guest Blogger Kali Pappas Chats about Movie Fashions

Please welcome web mistress of The Emma Adaptations Pages, Graphic and Web Designer of Strangegirl Designs, and Regency fashion and style authority Kali Pappas today, as she chats about the “frivolus distinctions” of fashion in the two movie adaptations of Northanger Abbey. Enjoy!

“Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim. Catherine knew all this very well; her great aunt had read her a lecture on the subject only the Christmas before; and yet she lay awake ten minutes on Wednesday night debating between her spotted and her tamboured muslin, and nothing but the shortness of the time prevented her buying a new one for the evening.” Chapter 10

***

Ever since “Her love of dirt gave way to an inclination for finery,” Catherine Morland has yearned to experience society – balls, gowns, boys, and all the excitement and adventure that every naive young woman on the cusp of adulthood eagerly anticipates. Since Miss Morland’s first grand, grown-up adventure takes place in Bath – the famous health spa and mythic center of Georgian society and fashion – it’s only natural that dress, as frivolous a distinction as it may be, should play a distinguished part in the drama that unfolds before our heroine.

 NA 1986: Parties galore are evident upon arrival in Bath!

With clotheshorse Mrs. Allen as her chaperone and first advisor on things sartorial, Catherine costumes herself for a dual role – that of a garden-variety romantic heroine on the loose in a fancy town, in addition to that of a wannabe gothic heroine whose imagination tends toward the horrid. Both the 1986 and 2007 adaptations of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey use fashion to play up the romance and hyperbole presented in this gothic parody, though sometimes in starkly different ways. While the 2007 adaptation is relatively subtle in its costuming, the 1986 adaptation veers a bit more toward the cartoonish at times.

NA 1986: Catherine and her brother dash through a rather gothic-appropriate graveyard.

In the novel, clothing and one’s relationship with it function as more than mere “frivolous distinctions,” despite the authoress’ narrations to the contrary. It is, after all, it’s Henry Tilney’s knowledge of muslin which proves his “genius” to Mrs. Allen. “Men commonly take so little notice of those things,” she tells him. “I can never get Mr. Allen to know one of my gowns from another.” While Mrs. Allen’s comfort in Henry’s knowledge is superficial, his interest in matters of feminine importance shows us as readers that he’s a sensitive guy who makes an honest effort to understand and appreciate girls.

NA 2007: “I gave but five shillings a yard for it, and a true Indian muslin!” 

In the television adaptations of the story, one could argue that fashion is an even more important distinction, given the visual dimension of the medium. Aside from the usual quick inferences it allows a viewer to make – regarding class and age, for example – it also subtly informs us as to the personality and even the motives of the wearer.

In both adaptations, Catherine first appears as a clean, blank, and thoroughly transparent being. She is the antithesis of artifice, wearing sheer, simple muslin gowns in virginal white. Her hair is uncomplicated, even a bit unkempt. In the 1986 adaptation, we find her reading in a tree; in dirty stocking feet, no less, which indicates that while her “inclination for finery” may be considerable, her tolerance of dirt has not yet subsided. She is not yet a fully-civilized “adult.’

NA 1986: Early Catherine reading in a tree

NA 2007: Catherine reading novels

In the 1986 adaptation, Catherine begins her transformation upon embarkation for Bath, suited up in simple yet elegant new travelling togs which appear to consist of a smart new bonnet, a new gown, and a satiny-blue pelisse over it.

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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!

 

Emma Woodhouse; I Have a Piece of News for You!

Image of Kate Beckinsale as Emma Woodhouse, Emma, (1996)NEWS

“Emma,” said Mr. Knightley presently, “I have a piece of news for you. You like news — and I heard an article in my way hither that I think will interest you.”

“News! Oh! yes, I always like news. What is it? Why do you smile so? Where did you hear it? Mr. Knightly & Emma Woodhouse, Emma, Chapter 21

Jane Austen’s character Emma Woodhouse loves a bit of news, so I am sure that she will be amused to know that others are talking about her around the Blog-o-spere.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I am confident in saying that Miss Emma Woodhouse would find Austen-esque author Laurie Viera Rigler’s honest admission that she has, on occasion, offered unsolicited advice quite gratifying! In her recent musing on her Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict Blog, she professes to have been a bit Emma like, missapplyments and all. Her cure was in understanding Austen.

I have this theory that if you read her works enough times and really contemplate the life lessons therein, you can pretty much give up your psychotherapist.

(Hmm? Reminder to myself to cancel next appointment with therapist) You can read her entire humorous and entertaining commentary in the online article, Emma; or How Jane Austen Revealed My Inner Know-it-All, on her delightful blog.

Image of Mark Strong and Samantha Morton in Emma, (1996)

I dare say, that there are few people who know more about Austen’s novel Emma than web mistress and designer Kali Pappas. You can read her guest blogger contribution on the costuming in the upcoming Emma (1996) adaptation on my co-blog, Jane Austen Today entitled, Fashionable Emma Woodhouse: Costuming in Austen’s Emma Adapted. Visit Kali’s blog Emma Adaptations to discover even more about Miss Woodhouse and her Highbury friends.

Read the complete synopsis of the movie at Masterpiece Classic’s Emma webpage.

Image of Box Hill Picnic, Emma, (1996)

Learn all about Emma’s Box Hill picnic at Jane Austen’s World.

Jane Austen Quote of the Day, is featuring some of the best quotes from Emma.

The novel Emma is renown for it’s unique characterizations, so in anticipation of the airing of the 1996 movie of Emma on Sunday, March 23rd at 9:00 pm on PBS, I have focused this week entirely on some of my favorites; Cast Preview, Emma Woodhouse, Harriet Smith, and Mr. Elton. Discover what makes Austen’s characters so appealing, or unappealing as mayhap! I hope that you all enjoy the movie!

Image of group shot of the cast of Emma, (1996)