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4 septembre 2017 1 04 /09 /septembre /2017 08:30

The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl have been already set forth by the capital pen of a sister author; - and the treatment of the subject I will only add I justice to men, that though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything more in woman than ignorance.

But Catherine didn’t know her own advantages – didn’t know that a good-looking girl, with an affectionate heart and a very ignorant mind, cannot fail of attracting a clever young man, unless circumstances are particularly untoward. In the present instance, she confessed and lamented her want of knowledge; declared that she would give anything in the world to be able to draw; and a lecture of the picturesque immediately followed, in which his instructions were so clear that she soon began to see beauty in everything admired by him, and her attention was so earnest, that he became perfectly satisfied of her having a great deal of natural taste. He talked of fore-grounds distances, and second distances, - side-screens and perspectives – lights and shades – and Catherine was so hopeful a scholar, that when they gained the top of Beechen Cliff, she voluntarily rejected the whole city of Bath, as unworthy to make part of a landscape. Delighted with her progress and fearful of wearying her with too much wisdom at once, Henry suffered the subject to decline, and by an easy transition from a piece of rocky fragment and the withered oak which he had placed near its summit, to oaks in general, to forests, the enclosure of them, waste lands, crown lands and government, he shortly found himself arrived to politics and from politics, it was an easy step to silence. The general pause which succeeded his short disquisition on the state of the nation was put an end to Catherine who, in rather of a solemn tone of voice, uttered these words: “I have heard that something very shocking indeed will soon come out in London”.

 

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1775-1817) followed by Love and Friendships.  Taken to Bath for her coming out season, Catherine Morland meets Henry Tinley. Both are passionate readers of gothic novels. Invited in Northanger Abbey, Tinley’s family estate, how could she refuse? An Abbey! Ruins, locked doors, and forbidden corridors…

It’s a youthful work, started in 1707 and completed in 1803. It was published in December 1817, after Jane Austen’s death, in a single volume with “Persuasion”, one of her more classic novels; this latter, like “Emma” and “Pride and Prejudice”, explores marriage – literature’s principal subject, as Austen used to say, and its consequence, love – unless, heaven forbid, it should be the other way around. 

Love and Frienships, a brilliant parody of the sentimental novel written when she was seventeen years old is an early confirmation of Austen’s gift for irony.

 

 

Un livre, une page. Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen.
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