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A Reading of Northanger Abbey

Milsom Street looking south from George Street, Bath, 1840s

In 1997 on Austen-l and in 1999 on Janeites scheduled group conversations of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey occurred. On both lists we also read and discussed a series of critical books which included critical essays on Northanger Abbey. I posted continually during all these conversations, and have brought together in one place a very few of my essay-postings, interventions and responses to others during these online discussions. As with all the other group conversation and single essays I have placed on the Net form such conversations, I have altered the postings slightly so as to make for continuity and have occasionally rearranged them so the reader can follow the conversation as one would a story. Read as a series they form a close reading of Northanger Abbey against a scholarly critical background.

As a preface see my timeline for Northanger Abbey and an argument that a study of the calendar in the extant Northanger Abbey suggests the novel underwent several revisions and that the portion that takes place in the Abbey is far less determinate than the portion of time that takes place in Bath which is strictly kept, click here

And as an alternative view to the one espoused in 1997, see my recent essay on the three Northanger Abbey movies where I argue there is actually little gothicism in Austen. It's at Jane Austen's World: The Three Northanger Abbey movies.


             Claudia Johnson Northanger Abbey and other 1790s novels
             Bibliography; Coral Ann Howells and Judith Wilt on the gothic and Jane Austen
             Roger Gard's Art of Clarity and NA
             Tave: The Expectations of Catherine Morland; Austen Cults; Powerlessness

Volume I, Chapters 1 - 3

             What comes to mind with the word "Gothic", Strong Affection for Catherine & Young Girl's Names
             Novelistic Satire and Catherine's Naïveté; Gay's "The Hare and His Many Friends"
             First Dramatic Scene & Lines In All Austen's Novels
             A Satire on Gothic Romance, Gay & Disillusioned Story
             Acid Gaiety, The Debonair Hero and Heroine's Story; A Satire As Well As Novel

Volume I, Chapters 4 - 5

             Will No One Stand Up for the Unprotected Novel? The Great Defense; Female Friendship
             Kind and Unkind Teasing

Volume I, Chapters 6 - 7

             "Are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?"; Done in By a Book
             The Boor John Thorpe; Is Isabella just a liar?
             NA to Sanditon: Burney's Camilla & The Wanderer

Volume I, Chapters 8 - 9

             The Bath Versus Northanger Sections: On the Revisions
             Playing Upon on Our Emotions
             The Creation of Anxiety

Volume I, Chapters 10 - 11

             At long last, Tilney; Eleanor, True Gothic Friend; John Thorpe, a Horror
             James Morland, Antifeminism; Structurally Like Emma
             Sensitivity; Clues; Her Heart Danced Within Her; Susan
             Real Misery and Embarrassment
             'But Mr Thorpe only laughed; Real & Gothic Longings; Emily St Aubert

Volume I, Chapters 12 - 13

             The Strength of Sincerity
             Pressured, Harassed, Emotionally Blackmailed; Images of Heroines
             Driven Wild with Frustration

Volume I, Chapters 14 - 15

             A Conversation Piece in the Countryside
             A Picturesque Literary Walk; 'The capital pen of a sister author . . .'
             Epistolarity in this and other Austen novels
             Volume's End

Gothic Tower, detail from John Rathbone (1750-1807), View of Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

Volume II, Chapters 1 - 2 (or 16 - 17)

             Catherine Begins to Judge as Well as Feel
             An Invitation to An Abbey
             Waiting Around to Get to the Abbey

Volume II, Chapters 3 - 4 (or 18 - 19)

             Isabella/Captain Tilney/Catherine parallel Maria/Henry Crawford/Fanny
             'He knows what he is about and must be his own master'
             Parallel with Amélia Mansfield. (On this see further
             Continent Not Isolated: Jane Austen among French Women)
             Catherine's Response in the Context of Emma & Persuasion

Volume II, Chapters 5 - 6 (or 20 - 21)

             "I am always sorry to leave Elinor"
             The Breakfast Table, A Curricle -- & Henry's Fearful Storytelling
             Bobbie Ann Mason's The Girl Sleuth

Volume II, Chapters 7 - 8 (or 22 - 23)

             A Picturesque Abbey
             Time slows down; Light and Dark
             Mrs Allen, or How Not to Read Gothic
             Free Indirect Speech; General Tilney & Erotic Kitchen Gardens
             Rumsford Fireplace and the Dating of Northanger Abbey

Volume II, Chapters 9 - 10 (or 24 - 25)

             "The visions of romance were over..."
             'Of the Alps and Pyrenees ... ' and Marie Mancini
             An Inset Gothic Romance
             Catherine and Eleanor, a "strange" pair? & Austen's silences
             Ghostly Heroine & Chivalrous Hero (Ghosts of the Gothic)

Volume II, Chapters 11 - 12 (or 26 - 27)

             A Visit to Woodston
             A Letter from Isabelle; Why Henry Doesn't Betray His Brother

Volume II, Chapters 13 - 14 (or 28 - 29)

             The Parting of Eleanor and Catherine
             "This has been a strange acquaintance..."
             Mrs Morland Looking from the Outside In; Mother-Daughter

Volume II, Chapters 15 - 16 (or 30 - 31)

             Why does Henry Tilney turn up at the parsonage?
             The Same Henry Tilney
             On reading NA & MP in French & Italian Translation

Lansdowne Crescent, David Cox, Six Views of the City of Bath (1820)

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Page Last Updated 3 November 2003