Friday, June 16, 2006

Next Book: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Our next book has been chosen and it is Jane Austen’s first book: Northanger Abbey. Written in 1798 but not published until 1818 (after her death), it is a satire on over-the-top Gothic novels that were popular at the time. Like Don Quixote, it has lived longer than the literature it satirized. Another common Austen theme of confusing life and art is prevalent throughout the book.

Free online versions can be found at Project Gutenberg and at the University of Virginia’s e-text center. Paperback copies can be found in bookstores or online for under $10. There are 31 chapters, and we will cover around 6 a week—that will be about 50 pages at a time. Hopefully a shorter book and slower reading schedule will make it easier for people to read and participate.

I’ll post a schedule later, but plan to start discussions on this a couple of weeks after the last scheduled Vanity Fair date (or around the middle of July). There are a lot of online resources for the book, which I’ll also post later. Have fun reading!


Tiredbuthappy said...

I'm in, although I'll be at a family wedding and general hoopla for two weeks, returning mid-July, so I may be a little late starting.

Barry Barnitz said...


Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. Northanger Abbey is an early work, much closer to her unpublished youthful juvenelia than to her later works.

I will attempt to stop by an participate once you start the reading cycle.


Tiredbuthappy said...

Thanks, Barry. Would you consider letting us publish your article about finances in Jane Austen novels? Or do you have it online somewhere where we can link to it?

Barry Barnitz said...

Hi Claire:

If you can figure a way to post my pdf file of the paper, I would be more than happy to have it posted. I have posted an abbreviated version (without footnotes and extended quotations) as a posting on my (experimentatal) Literary Musings. Of course, the full paper includes the historical financial data that buttresses and explains the financial information Austen sprinkles throughout her narratives. Northanger Abbey is a very early novel (Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice date from this period also, but both of these early works were revised and rewritten before publication, and reflect the growing power and maturation of the artist.) Northanger Abbey was sold to a publisher (for 10 pounds) but was not published. Austen later bought back the text (for 10 pounds). The book was only published posthumously , along with her last completed novel Persuasion, by her brother Harry.

As we read Northanger Abbey, we should note any passing references to a character's real, implied, or imputed wealth, since money plays a large role in the motivations of character; especially when it applies to venal, mercenary characters.