Jane Austen and the Didactic Novel: Northanger Abbey, Sense by Jan S. Fergus

By Jan S. Fergus

Jane Austen and the Didactic Novel: Northanger Abbey, experience and Sensibility and satisfaction and Prejudice Barnes & Noble Books, U.S.A, 1983. Hardcover.

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Jane Austen and the Didactic Novel: Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen and the Didactic Novel: Northanger Abbey, feel and Sensibility and satisfaction and Prejudice Barnes & Noble Books, U. S. A, 1983. Hardcover.

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Why should it be placed here? - Pushed back too, as if meant to be out of sight! - I will look into it - cost me what it may, I will look into it - and directly too by day-light. If I stay till evening my candle may go out' (163). As the narration continues, however, distinctly Radcliffean description begins to prevail, though here with subtle modulations between imitation (,curiously inlaid', 'tarnished from age') and burlesque (,strange violence', 'mysterious cypher', 'strange events') which establish ironic distance, indicating that the feelings evoked are to be laughed at and that Catherine's imagination is 'raised': She advanced and examined it closely: it was of cedar, curiously inlaid 30 Jane Austen and the Didactic Novel with some darker wood, and raised, about a foot from the ground, on a carved stand of the same.

Than anything to be found in Udolpho itself' (P, p. 285). Adeline's discovery of a mysterious manuscript in The Romance of the Forest is at two removes from Catherine's discovery of the washing-bills: Catherine's adventures partly imitate events in Henry's parody, and these events burlesque several elements in Adeline's discovery scene. Despite this indirection, some measure of the differences between Austen's effects and Radcliffe's can be approximated by comparing the climactic moments of the scenes: the heroines' discoveries and immediate responses.

Or perhaps more correctly, she is not yet mature enough as an artist to use conventions without self-consciousness, without calling attention to their presence. At the same time, this interest in convention offers her a good start as a novelist - a far more promising one, in general, than that exclusive interest in oneself which produces so many autobiographical first novels. Those writers whose early works show, like Austen's, a playful treatment of convention, an attraction to artifice, and an amused preoccupation with the relation between life and literature, are among the greatest; these concerns are visible in the early work of Chaucer (The Book of the Duchess) and Shakespeare (Love's Labour's Lost).

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