Monday, 2 February 2015

Like Downton Abbey, But In Book Form

I swear in the first 100 pages of this book, nothing actually happens. I can summarise the first 100 pages like this:

Catherine: likeable, if really, really naive and innocent. "A woman in love with one man cannot flirt with another" (140),  sorry to disappoint you Catherine but...
Her brother: nothing much going on there.
Isabella: seems nice enough (OR IS SHE?) and truly loves Catherine's characterless brother (OR DOES SHE??).
Her brother: I want to punch him in his stupid face.
Henry: dreamy, sarcastic love-boat (OR IS HE?).
His sister: nope, nothing much here either.

And X fancies Y but Y fancies Z while X's sister fancies Y's brother. But this takes 100 pages! And I still don't know what happens in a pump-room.

(pg. 5) Catherine is fond of "base ball"? I never even knew they had it back then. I mean, what did they put on their hotdogs?
(pg. 140) And I think many people would take issues with the statement that "No man is offended by another man's admiration [i.e. flirting] of the woman he loves". I think you'll find they usually are.

I'm having trouble connecting Shaun of the Dead to this book though. Is it just that outside influences (gothic novels) are dictating Catherine's actions without her thinking? If so (and that claim seems a bit dubious), I though Shaun of the Dead was more about satirising modern consumer day-in-day-out-everything-stays-the-same culture. I guess Northanger Abbey's characters do seem to be doing a lot of pump-rooming and not a lot else, but what else was there to do back then? You couldn't exactly go hand gliding or quad biking, your options were quite limited.

Great film though. Anyone who hasn't seen the films in the 'Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy' (as it's grown to be called) really should, they're three of the funniest films I know.


  1. Your post made me crack up, as they usually do! But okay, how does the book connect with the film? I haven't re-read my seminar notes from last year yet, but if I remember correctly, last year I thought that the point wasn't so much that Catherine is too influenced by things outside of her, but that others are. She doesn't go along with the crowd so much as people like Isabella and Mrs. Allen do. But then again, in lecture on Monday Professor Burgess talked about how Wordsworth thought many novels were "gross and violent stimulants" (and I'd guess the gothic novels they're talking about in Austen's text would count), and they do affect Catherine by making her *want* to be frightened, to have a "gothic" experience. But she has the choice to be influenced this way, and to pull herself out of it. At the end of lecture Dr. Burgess said that the novel is saying that books don't make people savagely torpid; people make themselves so with books. It's our own fault if we're not critical consumers. So maybe she kind of was a zombie when at the Abbey but pulls herself out of it.

    I'll try to make more sense of this for myself before class tomorrow!

  2. I agree that I found the connection between Shaun of the Dead and Northanger Abbey a bit difficult. Like you said, back in those days people of high society didn't have much of a choice in what they did, whereas now we do. Personally I find it difficult to see Northanger Abbey as a satire (and honestly I kind of forget if it actually is supposed to be one) but then Shaun of the Dead strikes me as an obvious and more accessible satire, and because I'm finding it hard to see direct parallels in the motives of each.