Jane Austen Challenge Update #2

It was just 18 days ago that I blogged that I had finished Mansfield Park after a months’ long attempt to get into the book, which I felt ended rather unsatisfactorily. Well, days ago, I finished Northanger Abbey. As much as I hated Mansfield Park, I absolutely loved Northanger Abbey! There was romance, humor, satire, and even some 19th century horror (just the right amount of scary for me to enjoy). Austen seems to poke fun at almost every establishment of her time period, and I learned more about the time period from this piece of fiction, than any history book that I have ever read.  I loved the book and could barely put it down! My only complaint of this book, is actually an edition criticism, and that is what is with the front cover picture and the guy, complete with moustache, dressed like a woman, playing cards? Did I miss something?????

One of the main things that I decided was a real contribution to my enjoyment of the book was having an annotated version. I will never attempt to read a non-annotated classic again. For some reason, I originally felt that being a college graduate made me too intellectual and my age made me too mature to need the footnotes. Uhm… wrong on both accounts! Neither maturity, nor college taught me about 19th century vocabulary, satires, literary or political references, financial equivalencies, or idioms. For instance, being familiar with the modern version of the word “quiz”, I would never have consulted a dictionary in regards to the few times it is used in Northanger Abbey, yet a quick look at the footnote informed me that Austen uses it to mean “a practical joke, riddle, or oddity.” Without the notes, I would have just been vaguely confused about why people were so obsessed with quizzing people in Bath. Nor would I have known later, that growing pineapples, at the time of this story, would have been horribly wasteful use of land and a sign of having no social conscience, as many of the people in England at the time “were either starving or subsisting on horseflesh, turnips, even nettles.”

All in all, I may have to say this was my favorite Austen book. Now on to Persuasion, which I have actually seen in play format and almost swooned with how romantic it was. Hopefully the book will be as entertaining as the play, if not more so. Regardless, I now have 2 1/2 months to finish it, so I believe I will meet my Austen quota for the year and challenge!

Labels: Literature, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff