Recommended reading for Northanger Abbey
Barchas, Janine.“Mapping Northanger Abbey: Or, Why Austen’s Bath of 1803 Resembles J0yce’s Dublin of 1904.” Review of English Studies 60 (2009): n. pag. Print.
Recommended by Robert Clark
The title might mislead: the article offers no significant understanding of Joyce's Dublin, only that one needs to read places in Austen with a similar alertness to implied local meaning. What this essay does offer is an informed commentary on the places mentioned in Northanger Abbey, and how their use and minimal description imply a reader well versed in the geography of the town. The essay thus supports the critical contention that c. 1801-1802 Austen, then living in Bath, approached the Bath printer and publisher Cruttwell, who then recommended the work to Crosby in London. Barchas also contends that the mistaken belief tha Catherine Morland is a wealthy heiress plays upon the confusion of Mr and Mrs Allen with the heirs of Ralph Allen, the richest people in Bath when the novel was composed and sold for publication. This was a Bath novel to be appreciated by Bath afficionados who would be sharply aware of how reality undercuts the many silly assumptions made by Catherine, John Thorpe and General Tilney.