Category Archives: Novels

The greatest powers of the mind

“‘I am no novel reader — I seldom look into novels — Do not imagine that I often read novels — It is really very well for a novel.’ — Such is the common cant — ‘And what are you reading, Miss—?’ “Oh! it is only a novel!’ replies the young lady; while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame.–‘It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda;’ or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.”

Jane as narrator commenting on the value of her profession; the books she refers to are by Fanny Burney (Cecilia and Camilla) and Maria Edgeworth (Belinda)
Northanger Abbey, chapter 5

I have read Burney’s Evelina–a wonderful Christmas gift from my roommate last year–and loved it.  If you are done with the Austen canon and looking for further reading, I highly recommend Burney.  Another related book on my to-be-read list is Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, which Jane spoofs here in NA.

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Northanger Abbey, Novels, Writing

An injured body

“Yes, novels; — for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding — joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust.  Alas! if the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard?  I cannot approve of it.  Let us leave it to the Reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans.  Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body.  Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried.”

Jane launches into this little commentary (isn’t it wonderful?) after saying that Catherine Morland and Isabella Thorpe would shut themselves up together to read novels, when it was raining and there was no other entertainment to be had
Northanger Abbey, chapter 5

Comments Off on An injured body

Filed under Northanger Abbey, Novels, Writing

Poor, slighted novelists

” . . . there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labor of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them.”

Jane as narrator commenting on the value of her profession
Northanger Abbey, chapter 5

Comments Off on Poor, slighted novelists

Filed under Art, Northanger Abbey, Novels, Writing