Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen, published by Kessinger Publishing
Every year or so I try to reread or relisten as much as possible of Jane Austen’s canon novel, or watch adaptations, or something, and I figured that it would not be worthwhile to have a ton of book reviews of the same few books over and over again. So, what I have decided to do is to start another occasional blog, namely one that allows me to ponder what it is I was looking for in a particular book and what it is that I happened to find. For the first example of this we will be looking at a large page-sized version of Northanger Abbey that shows up as a reprint of a supposedly rare book. I find this highly entertaining for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that one thing that cannot be said of any of Jane Austen’s canonical novels (of which there are six: Northanger Abbey, Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion) is that they are rare or out of print. In fact, these six novels have always been in print. Even so, it makes sense that a press would want to make money by printing a book that is slightly more obscure than Austen’s other novels, but not quite as obscure as her unfinished novels or early works.
What did I get out of this novel? Well, it turned out being a pretty ordinary version of an enjoyable novel. That said, there were a few things that this novel did include that were worthwhile, and the most important of these was the short advertisement by the author herself that stated that the novel had been finished in 1803 and intended for immediate publishing, and even advertised that it was going to be published without ever having been released. After buying back the manuscript from the dilatory publisher for ten pounds, Austen had the joy of telling him later on that the novel had been written by the author of Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice and that he had lost his chance at publishing one of the great novels of English literature. Austen’s appeal to the audience to be gentle with the book given that some of its topical references is out of date is rather touching, since Austen did not expect that more than 200 years later people would still enjoy reading her novels over and over again like Catherine Moreland does here with other, less familiar novels to us.