Northanger Abbey: An Annotated Edition

Overview

The star of Northanger Abbey is seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland, Jane Austen's youngest and most impressionable heroine. Away from home for the first time, on a visit to Bath with family friends, Catherine, a passionate consumer of novels (especially of the gothic variety), encounters a world in which everything beckons as a readable text: not only books, but also conversations and behaviors, clothes, carriages, estates, and vistas. In her lively introduction to this newest volume in Harvard's celebrated ...

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Overview

The star of Northanger Abbey is seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland, Jane Austen's youngest and most impressionable heroine. Away from home for the first time, on a visit to Bath with family friends, Catherine, a passionate consumer of novels (especially of the gothic variety), encounters a world in which everything beckons as a readable text: not only books, but also conversations and behaviors, clothes, carriages, estates, and vistas. In her lively introduction to this newest volume in Harvard's celebrated annotated Austen series, Susan Wolfson proposes that Austen's most underappreciated, most playful novel is about fiction itself and how it can take possession of everyday understandings.

The first of Austen's major works to be completed (it was revised in 1803 and again in 1816-17), Northanger Abbey was published months after Austen's death in July 1817, together with Persuasion. The 1818 text, whose singularly frustrating course to publication Wolfson recounts, is the basis for this freshly edited and annotated edition.

Wolfson's running commentary will engage new readers while offering delights for scholars and devoted Janeites. A wealth of color images bring to life Bath society in Austen's era--the parade of female fashions, the carriages running over open roads and through the city's streets, circulating libraries, and nouveau-riche country estates--as well as the larger cultural milieu of Northanger Abbey. This unique edition holds appeal not just for "Friends of Jane" but for all readers looking for a fuller engagement with Austen's extraordinary first novel.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Northanger Abbey has a thorny history: The first of Jane Austen's works to be completed, the novel was revised more than once, and although it was sold during her lifetime, it remained unpublished until after her 1817 demise. This annotated edition sorts out its complicated history while infinitely enhancing its text with Susan Wolfson's running commentary; notes on society and culture of the period; and colorful contemporary illustrations. A superb new Harvard University Press annotated edition to Jane Austen's most playful novel.

Patricia Meyer Spacks
Through her introduction and notes, Susan Wolfson provides abundant information about Jane Austen’s life, circumstances, and cultural setting, as well as a penetrating interpretation of Northanger Abbey. This annotated edition adds to the enjoyment that the novel has given readers over almost three centuries. Austen’s spoof of the Gothic supplies not only entertainment, but also, as Wolfson demonstrates, insight into the author’s attitudes toward reading, gender relations, the novelist’s art, and much besides.
Open Letters Monthly - Steve Donoghue
The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press continues its stellar collection of gorgeous, oversized editions with a new annotated version of Jane Austen’s 1817 novel Northanger Abbey. Princeton University English professor Susan Wolfson does the annotating honors this time, filling page after page with her lively and freakishly comprehensive marginalia…Her Introduction is fast-paced and insightful…The quality of the annotations themselves is universally excellent...No matter how many times you’ve read Northanger Abbey, Wolfson will teach you something, and many of the connections she draws are fascinating.
Claire Tomalin
Northanger Abbey, least known of Jane Austen’s novels, offers some of her wittiest lines and most personal opinions. Susan Wolfson’s cogent and spirited introduction and her notes, acute and thorough, make this an edition every Austen enthusiast will learn from and enjoy.
Joyce Carol Oates
Susan Wolfson is the ideal scholar-critic to guide us through Jane Austen’s mock-gothic Northanger Abbey. With a masterly introduction, this annotated edition is a treasure-trove of historical background, intertextual illumination, and literary insight.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674725676
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2014
  • Edition description: Annotated
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 162,848
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan J. Wolfson is Professor of English at Princeton University.

Biography

In 1801, George Austen retired from the clergy, and Jane, Cassandra, and their parents took up residence in Bath, a fashionable town Jane liked far less than her native village. Jane seems to have written little during this period. When Mr. Austen died in 1805, the three women, Mrs. Austen and her daughters, moved first to Southampton and then, partly subsidized by Jane's brothers, occupied a house in Chawton, a village not unlike Jane's first home. There she began to work on writing and pursued publishing once more, leading to the anonymous publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811 and Pride and Prejudice in 1813, to modestly good reviews.

Known for her cheerful, modest, and witty character, Jane Austen had a busy family and social life, but as far as we know very little direct romantic experience. There were early flirtations, a quickly retracted agreement to marry the wealthy brother of a friend, and a rumored short-lived attachment -- while she was traveling -- that has not been verified. Her last years were quiet and devoted to family, friends, and writing her final novels. In 1817 she had to interrupt work on her last and unfinished novel, Sanditon, because she fell ill. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, where she had been taken for medical treatment. After her death, her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published, together with a biographical notice, due to the efforts of her brother Henry. Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Author biography courtesy of Barnes & Noble Books.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      December 16, 1775
    2. Place of Birth:
      Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England
    1. Date of Death:
      July 18, 1817
    2. Place of Death:
      Winchester, Hampshire, England
    1. Education:
      Taught at home by her father

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