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[personal profile] skull_bearer

1. Her first major novel (Northanger Abbey) was written solely because she was so salty about how dramatic and cliche and formula Gothic novels were. You know what I mean. Every castle is foreboding. Every villain is awful but can’t bring himself to kill the heroine because she’s Too Pure. Every middle-aged female companion wants to do the heroine in. The heroine is Pure and Perfect and Is Good At Everything Young Women Should Be and recites quotes and/or the Bible whenever she’s in danger and that makes everything better. All butlers are evil. Jane Austen wrote a book specifically to go “THIS is how NORMAL people react to things!!!”

2. “She never changed her opinion about books or men”

3. “As a girl she wrote stories, including burlesques of popular romances” and you know what that means. Jane Austen started off writing smut fanfiction. If that’s not writing reassurement that you can be great no matter what you choose to write, I don’t know what is.

(Both quotes from the Penguin Classics version of Northanger Abbey)

No but seriously, Northanger Abbey is the funniest book ever. The narrator of the book is trying so hard to make this a gothic novel, but keeps on getting thwarted at every turn due to the characters being too sensible. Take when Catherine sees Mr Tilney with another woman.

Narrator: How our heroine must be feeling! All these lies, these deceptions, she must retreat of faint on the spot-

Catherine: This must be his sister!

Narrator: … goddamn it. *scraps entire subplot*

But at the same time everybody in the book is cheerfully reading gothic novels and enjoying them thoroughly, even Mr Tilney, and the one person who scoffs at them (John Thorpe) then proudly boasts that he ‘only reads books by (famous gothic authors)’.

And on top of everything, there is a gothic novel going on in the story, but the main character isn’t Catherine, it’s Tilney’s sister. She ticks off all the Gothic heroine traits- dead mother, wears white, doesn’t read novels, goes for long gloomy walks, her father won’t let her marry the man she loves- but we don’t actually get to read that story because the narrator affixed herself to Catherine instead, much to her dismay and our amusement.

It’s just absolutely genius from start to finish.

September 2017

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