Friday, January 18, 2008

Northanger Abbey

In preparation for the latest film adaptation of Northanger Abbey (Sunday on PBS), I reread the book.

I haven’t read Northanger Abbey for several years. With the passage of time, my mind had warped its content. In my memory, the book consists mainly of Catherine Morland’s fantastical daydreams, which are induced by an overdose of gothic novels. My most vivid memory is of Catherine as the Tilneys’ houseguest. Somehow, she deduces General Tilney murdered his wife.

Now that I’ve reread the book, I realize Catherine’s fantasy is only a small part of the book. In fact, a majority of the story takes place in Bath as Catherine socializes with the Thorpes and the Tilneys.

I remembered Northanger Abbey as pure satire, mocking the gothic novels Catherine so heartily embraces. Yet, the book actually addresses many of the same social issues covered in other Austen novels.

Northanger Abbey explores the themes of economics and class distinctions as relationships are created and destroyed over money. Catherine is a sweet and innocent girl, content to follow the mores of society. She learns, though, that not everyone has similar integrity. Isabella Thorpe and Frederick Tilney are reminiscent of the Willoughbys and Wickhams in other novels.

Northanger Abbey isn’t exactly the fun and delightful book I remembered, and it ranks last on my Austen chart. Yet, it is still far superior to most books, and I can’t wait for Sunday night to watch the new film adaptation.

1 comment:

notaconnoisseur said...

Now I can hardly wait to read your comments about the television production. Get busy writing blogger!