Northanger Abbey: Bibliography. Coral Ann Howells and Judith Wilt

To Janeites

Here is some recent useful literary criticism on Northanger Abbey:

  • Butler, Marilyn, ed., introd. Northanger Abbey (Oxford, 1995), pp. xi-xlviii;
  • Cantrell, D. Dean, 'Her Passion for Ancient Edifices', Persuasions 7 (1985), pp. 89-93.
  • Cecil, Hugh, "The Sound of Distant Moans" -- Reflections on Northanger Abbey and the British ghost story', Collected Reports of the Jane Austen Society, 1986-95, 1992, pp. 269-78;
  • Clarke, Stephen, 'Abbeys Real and Imagined: Northanger, Fonthill, and Aspects of the Gothic Revival, Persuasions 20 (1998), pp. 93-105;
  • Dussinger, John, 'Parents Against Children: General Tilney as Gothic Monster', Persuasions 20 (1998), pp. 165-74;
  • Gay, Penny, 'In the Gothic Theatre', Persuasions 20 (1998), pp. 175-84;
  • Graham, Kenneth, 'The Case of the Petulant Patriarch', Persuasions 20 (1998), pp. 119-34;
  • Hartley, L. P, 'Address to the Annual General Meeting, 1965', Collected Reports of the Jane Austen Society, 1949-65, 1965, pp. 297-310 (also general and on S&S and MP);
  • Lane, Maggie, 'Jane Austen's Bath' and 'Blaise Castle', Persuasions 7 (1985), pp. 53-58, 78-81;
  • Mudrick, Marvin, 'Irony versus Gothicism,' Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion: A Casebook, ed. B. C. Southam (London, 1976), pp. 73-92.
  • Roberts, Marilyn, 'Catherine Morland: Gothic Heroine After All?', Jane Austen Goes to the Movies, 48 (1997), pp. 22-30;
  • Stovel, Bruce. "Northanger Abbey at the Movies', Persuasions 20 (1998), pp. 236-47;
  • Ty, Eleanor, 'Catherine's Real and Imagined Fears: What Happens to Female Bodies in Gothic Castles', Persuasions 20 (1998), pp. 248-60

Howells and Wilt on the Gothic and Jane Austen.

Both Coral Ann Howells in Love, Mystery and Misery and Judith Wilt in Ghosts of the Gothic attempt to bring Austen's Northanger Abbey within the purlieus of the true gothic.

Coral Ann Howells:

Howells shows a great deal of common ground between Austen and Radcliffe in general, and in Northanger Abbey Austen investigates the very area of the irrational that the Gothic novelists always claimed as their own, and employs Radcliffian techniques for registering emotion. Austen has demonstrated the truth of the Gothic novelists' perceptions into the psychology of feeling and the dimensions of human irrationality, p 129

Judith Wilt, Ghosts of the Gothic

Wilt delineates the terrain of the gothic and makes a case for including Northanger Abbey in it. She argues that for Austen and Eliot romance has made accesssible to realism the domaine of the abnormal. Here is a rapid fire summary:

Austen's transformed machinery is activated, energized by dread; turning point of Emma and Northanger Abbey is recognition of dread; idea is not to mock but to raise machinery to its real importance, to make the anxieties of common life serious, high, significant. Judith Wilt's analysis depends on deeper understanding of Radcliffe and assumption Austen had that understanding too. There is strong support of Udolpho in opening; interesting comments on history; Austen heiress of Radcliffe. Catherine knows remorse, self-reproach, p. 134; this generates self-examination, self-forgiveness and growth. This latter does not happen to Emma Woodhouse. Setting is significant; that's why its title is appropriate. At the Abbey there is discomfort, something hollow at its center, something very scary. To convince you have to move from within? Fathers still terrifying in transparency and dominance, also inadequacy; trouble is to find an alternate, a solution towards freedom that is not simply beastlike.

Udolpho at Northanger Abbey: Here in the great Abbey, still labyrinthian, there's an evil father, silent checked brother, tyrannized daughter. Everyone agrees the General is a gothic villain; others have seen Tilney is a Valancourt, Eleanor an Emily.

In Northanger Abbey and Persuasion: two pairs of central lovers who fall in love quickly. There are others: Jane and Bingley, Jane and Churchill, but on the margin. In the case of Willoughby and Marianne, he was faking it. Hardly any letters by heroines. Go through books looking for a dream; see if there is one.

Genteel Demon-Lovers?

She say we see some motifs of the gothic clearly in Mansfield Park: Sir Thomas and Fanny, the tyrant-father and daughter; the attic. Henry Crawford given real depths and real powers. These severe tonguelashings, worse than any other scourge among the anxieties of common life, p 154.

Intensity of that scene at Box Hill: sense conveyed of the crust of polite behavior cracking over a real abyss, of an achieved self exposed as monstrous, and overthrown, p 155. Jane Fairfax's is the personality under siege. Frank and Jane's story a Gothic subnovel within larger novel. Notice these names. Frank and Jane Austen. Her real brothers whose 3 packets of letters exchanged with her were destroyed and who (as Frank himself wrote) is represented in Wentworth.


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Page Last Update 8 March 2003