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Northanger Abbey (Bantam Classic) Reissue Edition

407 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0553211979
ISBN-10: 0553211978
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Though Northanger Abbey is one of Jane Austen's earliest novels, it was not published until after her death--well after she'd established her reputation with works such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility. Of all her novels, this one is the most explicitly literary in that it is primarily concerned with books and with readers. In it, Austen skewers the novelistic excesses of her day made popular in such 18th-century Gothic potboilers as Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho. Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers all figure into Northanger Abbey, but with a decidedly satirical twist. Consider Austen's introduction of her heroine: we are told on the very first page that "no one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine." The author goes on to explain that Miss Morland's father is a clergyman with "a considerable independence, besides two good livings--and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters." Furthermore, her mother does not die giving birth to her, and Catherine herself, far from engaging in "the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush" vastly prefers playing cricket with her brothers to any girlish pastimes.

Catherine grows up to be a passably pretty girl and is invited to spend a few weeks in Bath with a family friend. While there she meets Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor, who invite her to visit their family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Austen amuses herself and us as Catherine, a great reader of Gothic romances, allows her imagination to run wild, finding dreadful portents in the most wonderfully prosaic events. But Austen is after something more than mere parody; she uses her rapier wit to mock not only the essential silliness of "horrid" novels, but to expose the even more horrid workings of polite society, for nothing Catherine imagines could possibly rival the hypocrisy she experiences at the hands of her supposed friends. In many respects Northanger Abbey is the most lighthearted of Jane Austen's novels, yet at its core is a serious, unsentimental commentary on love and marriage, 19th-century British style. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A resurgence of interest in Austen, combined with a vivacious reading by British actress Amanda Root, makes this a timely audio selection. Usually considered Austen's earliest completed novel, this posthumously published work is a delightful parody of gothic novels. Heroine Catherine Moreland is introduced to the social whirl of Bath by a new friend, Isabella Thorpe. Alas, Catherine is disappointed by this disloyal lass and departs to spend time at the ancestral home of her true friend, Eleanor Tilney, and Eleanor's charming brother Henry. Meanwhile, Isabella's brother John, whose romantic overtures have been rejected by Catherine, is almost successful in his schemes to cause the Tilneys to reject our heroine. An excellent acquisition for public libraries.

Linda Bredengerd, Univ. of Pittsburgh, Bradford, Pa.

Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Classic
  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics; Reissue edition (September 1, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553211978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553211979
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (407 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #733,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 11, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I approached this book somewhat warily, knowing that Northanger Abbey was to some degree a satirical take on the immense popularity of Gothic romances such as Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, a book I dearly love. Happily, Austen's means of poking fun at Gothic horror literature are far from mean-spirited and, as a matter of fact, can be delightfully humorous indeed. Her heroine, Catherine Morland, is by no means the type of heroine to be found in the giant tomes of Radcliffe and her indulgent imitators, as Austen tells her reading audience directly from the very start. "Almost attractive" on a good day, this unintellectual tomboy has reached her fifteenth year without inspiring a young man's fancy, nor would she be able to delight him with musical skill or even draw his profile in her secret notebooks if she had. Having encountered no strangers who would prove to be a lord or prince in disguise, her heroic ambitions seem stymied at best until fate steps in and grants her a stay of several weeks in the delightful town of Bath. Making her transition from naïve girl to equally naïve young lady, Catherine almost immediately falls quite in love with young Henry Tilney, while at the same time she becomes intimate friends with an older young lady named Isabella, whose inconstancy as both friend and intended beloved of Catherine's own brother eventually brings her much pain. To her intense delight, however, Catherine is invited by General Tilney, Henry's father, to spend some few weeks in his home, Northanger Abbey. Her joy at spending such private time in the company of her beloved and new best friend Eleanor Tilney is immense, but equally exciting to her is the chance to spend time in a mysterious former abbey of the sort she has read so much about.Read more ›
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I used to love Gothic novels. I collected out-of-print Victoria Holt paperbacks, I had stuffed animals named after characters in Charlotte and Emily Bronte novels, but ever since I've read Northanger Abbey, I can't read a Gothic novel with a straight face. Jane Austen does a marvelous job of sending up convoluted scary novels (and melodrama in general) in this book, and creates her most masculine and fascinating hero, Henry Tilney.
Don't think that Catherine Morland, the heroine, is just a naive kid. Her naivete is a necessary component of the novel, as it allows her to see the wider world with fresh eyes, provide a foil to the more worldly characters, and ultimately capture the heart of the hero.
And then there's Henry...he teases, he teaches, he forgives Catherine's regrettable fancies, knowing that he had a hand in encouraging them. He's witty, he's charming, he's kind of a slob, and he wears his greatcoats so well!
As in all her novels, Jane Austen provides a great host of hilarious supporting characters, in particular John and Isabella Thorpe and Mrs. Allen. I defy anyone not to laugh at John Thorpe's nonsensical and contradictory comments. One wonders how many such "rattles" wearied Miss Austen's attention to provide such a character study.
Great writing, great story, great characters...come to Northanger Abbey with a sense of humor and you will not be disappointed.
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Emily Snyder on December 9, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
" "I see what you think of me," said he gravely--"I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow."
"My journal!"
"Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings--plain black shoes--appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed me by his nonsense."
"Indeed I shall say no such thing."
"Shall I tell you what you ought to say?"
"If you please."
"I danced with a very agreeable young man, introduced by Mr. King; had a great deal of conversation with him--seems a most extraordinary genius--hope I may know more of him. That, madam, is what I wish you to say." "
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Northanger Abbey," the first, shortest, most satiric, and least read of Jane Austen's completed novels, is a delightful treasure that will make you quite literally laugh out loud (so beware bringing the book to the airport, as I did, lest you suffer strange glances for your smothered sniggers). Following the journey of the coming-of-age Catherine Morland and her misadventures in Bath to the "horrid" Abbey, Jane Austen presents us with perhaps her funniest sociological book, that proves not only that teens will be teens in any age, but that an overactive imagination is not always a blessing, and that love is often the result of being loved. Readers should keep on the lookout for the commentaries on novels, feminine wiles and homecomings from Austen herself - a technique subdued in her other novels. The cast also includes Jane Austen's wittiest hero, Henry Tilney (a.k.a.
Read more ›
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By erica on December 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
More lighthearted and less polished than Austen's other novels, "Northanger Abbey" is the chronicle of its heroine's adventures in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century British genteel society. Catherine, of marriageable age and reasonably attractive and well bred, goes on holiday to Bath, where she meets the gentlemanly Mr. Tilney and befriends the fickle Isabelle and her callow brother John. Her adventures in Bath and, later, in the home of her new acquaintances comprise the plot of Austen's mocking tale.
As usual, Austen is mocking the meeting-and-mating customs of then-contemporary Britain. But she is also mocking the gothic novels of the day: Catherine, influenced by the lowbrow literature she reads, is forever attributing dark motives to her acquaintances and skeletons to their closets. "Northanger Abbey" is unusual among Austen's works in that it attacks not only the society in which its heroine operates, but the heroine herself. Catherine is easily manipulated and slow to learn from her mistakes, and she bumbles into her eventual happy ending completely by accident, none the wiser for her troubles. And Austen makes clear, at the book's opening, that she does not wish to attack the novelists who write the books from which Catherine derives many of her false ideas: the error is Catherine's misapplication of the stories' lessons.
Although it was not published until after its author's death, "Northanger Abbey" is clearly a first novel. Its tone is different from the main body of Austen's work, and its quality is lower. While a pleasant read, the book is not particularly compelling and would probably be most enjoyable for Austen aficionados seeking a comprehensive study of her work.
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