A Brief Discussion of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey

Progress on Alternate: 31,235 words

Before I go back to reviews, I just want to write a little about Northanger Abbey. I won’t review it, primarily because it can be very difficult to review a classic and do it justice without the very detailed knowledge of the time, and its place in it. The modern novel, by contrast, tends to be a lot easier because, really, the time is now.

But I would still like to talk about it. As I have said before, I try to read Austen every so often. Just because it baffles me that something so beloved by so many can fail to give me anything at all close to the experience it gives others. But Northanger Abbey is the closest I get to enjoying Austen.

It almost feels like Austen is making fun of her own genre here. A heroine that is not like the typical heroine types subverting expectations, which was, back then, a daring step. It has a gothic element to it that the fan of gothic fiction in me finds interesting. But still, I get lost. I understand exactly what is happening, I can read Austen quite well. But a lot of the true emotion and feeling gets lost in it for me. If I had to talk about Austen’s works as a person, I would think of someone with the very traditionalist attitudes. Emotions are improper, we must always keep to these strict rules. And for me, that deadens the impact of any story. I want life from the things I read. I want something that takes me into someone’s world. Austen feels like I’m watching strangers; the books I love let me watch and care for friends.

I think next on my shelf is a re-read of some of Frank Beddor’s books, so I shall be leaping straight back into genre works shortly.

-K Hart

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