Gothic and other 19th C Novels, Was: Re: Best of 2001

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at
Wed Jan 16 13:43:46 EST 2002


>Sounds interesting! Wasn't the novel actually mentioned in _Northanger
>Abbey_  _The Romance of the Forest_ by Mrs. Radcliffe (I've forgotten her
>first name)? I'm not sure. My daughter was studying those kinds of gothic
>books in her uni course last year; I think they were comparing them with
>Austen's books and looking at the role of "the gothic" in them (I'll have to
>ask Zoe; my memory seems to be getting worse and worse).

Yes, the Radcliffe novels are there, but that wasn't the scene to 
which I was referring.  There's this wonderful bit in NA in which the 
narrator defends the novel.  She shows an imaginary reader (female), 
who replies when asked what she is reading, it is "only a novel", 
with shame.  And then goes on to say "only Cecelia, or Camilla, or 
Belinda", with great praise for the novels.  _Cecelia_ and _Camilla_ 
were by Burney and _Belinda_ by Maria Edgeworth.  It's even more fun 
because she snubs her nose at the canonical, "good" reading material 
(all written by males, of course) of the time in a deliciously 
subversive manner!

Oh here, listen to what she says (uh, if you want to that is):

"'It is only Cecelia, 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."

Couldn't you just substitute SF, or children/teen books for the novel 
in the above defense?


Ann Radcliffe--wrote lots of gothic novels and did a lot to establish
women as authors.  I, coincidentally, am taking a course on the Gothic
Novel this coming semester, and have just gotten the list of books.  It's
very nice, after this _past_ sememster, to read books old enough that
they're public domain and therefore mad cheap.  We will also, it seems, be
reading Northanger Abbey, which I'm quite looking forward to as I've never
read that one.  The one I'm not so much looking forward to is Dracula; I
read it in second grade and was so scared I hung onions by my window.  We
didn't have any garlic, but from what I could tell they looked similar.  I
seem to remember hanging a carrot or two as well--it's a root, you see.
My parents, thankfully, were not unamused.

Snap!  We're doing _Northanger Abbey_ and _Dracula_ this year too. 
If you can smell the garlic wafting over you'll know it scared me as 
well. :)

Hallie (who's writing while cooking dinner, much to the detriment of 
both.  And there are still too many interesting messages to be read!)

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