Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Re-Reading Northanger Abbey

Sweet jaysus, readership I'm behind in my book reviewin'. I re-read Northanger abbey like six weeks ago, for the first time since eightth grade, and I enjoyed it so much more now that I've become more ejimacated. Like I've actually read Fanny Burney and Anne Radcliffe and I've also read Austen's own juvenelia, so I can see how NA fits so nicely between her early pure satire and her later developed novels. And I can see how her tone in this one in particular borrows frm Burney, who has this amazing trick of burying sharp criticism in the naive words of her heroines.

But what struck me about this book, more than the gothic parody aspect of it which met my expectations of brilliance, was its amazing satire of freindship and interrelations between young people, particularly its depiction of Isabella and John Thorpe. John's boorish indifference and Isabella's flirtatiousness, fake self-effacement, and protestations of loyalty, and above all, both of their sense of their own self-imporance felt incredibly fresh and relevant. In essence, Austen used this book to completely skewer the cool kids without any of that half-hate half-love that marks contemporary "satires" like The Devil Wears Prada. Would that Jane's witty takedowns were applied with regularity to the cast of Gossip Girl.


  1. So, I'm catching up on EBC posts, and can't help making a pedantic comment. It grates on my feminist nerves to read the author of some of my favorite novels referred to as "Fanny," her family nickname, rather than "Frances." Can you think of any male writer subject to the same dimunition? Technically, we should call her Frances D'Arblay, the only name she ever actually used in print, but since the academy has gone with her maiden name (to emphasize her girlishness? her relation to her father? her common conflation with her first heroine?), I think we should at least use her full first name. Margaret Doody's biography of Burney has a good riff on this topic in the Intro.

  2. This is such a good point! I only called her Fanny because 1) that's the name they used in my women and the novel class and 2) it's Fanny. that's hi-larious. Come on!

    But seriously, from now on I will add the reference to Frances D'Arblay. Thanks for the tip. And that biography sounds awesome, too.