Most of us who read Jane Austen are always seeking new titles to read, and ways to answer the 200-year old question of “what to read when you have finished all of Jane Austen.” Other than the almost mandatory requirement to RE-READ Austen whenever possible, it is a “truth universally acknowledged” that an Austen reader will be soon in want of another book! I have seen many such lists and though always subjective to the list-maker, they are a great start. But what about Austen’s own reading? A number of articles have been written on this, as much is known from her letters, but as our JASNA-Vermont Chapter recently had a meeting and discussion on Northanger Abbey, and we know that NA was Austen’s tribute to the novel and reading, I would like to provide a list of books she actually cites throughout NA….it is an illuminating compilation and should keep us all busy for the next year at least! [ please note that there is no particular order to this list…. and if I have left anything out, please let me know!]
The Northanger Canon [ i.e. the “Horrid” Novels as referenced by Isabella Thorpe in Chapter 6 of NA]; also see the article describing each book in more detail at The University of Virginia’s Gothic Books Collection.
- THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO. by Ann Ward Radcliffe. London, 1794.
- THE CASTLE OF WOLFENBACH. by Mrs. Eliza Parsons. London, 1793.
- CLERMONT: A TALE. by Regina Maria Roche. London, 1798.
- THE MYSTERIOUS WARNING. by Mrs. Eliza Parsons. London, 1796.
- THE NECROMANCER; OR THE TALE OF THE BLACK FOREST, FOUNDED ON FACTS. Translated from the German of Lawrence Flammenberg by Peter Teuthold. London, 1794.
- THE MIDNIGHT BELL, A GERMAN STORY. by Francis Lathom. London, 1798.
- THE ORPHAN OF THE RHINE: A ROMANCE. by Mrs. Eleanor Sleath. London, 1798.
- THE HORRID MYSTERIES, A STORY FROM THE GERMAN OF THE MARQUIS OF GROSSE. by P. Will. London, 1796.
- THE ITALIAN. by Ann Ward Radcliffe. London, 1797.
Other titles cited in Northanger Abbey:
- Burney, Fanny. CECELIA, OR MEMOIRS OF AN HEIRESS (1782)
- ____________. CAMILLA, OR A PICTURE OF YOUTH (1796)
- Edgeworth, Maria. BELINDA (1801)
- Fielding, Henry. TOM JONES (1749)
- Richardson, Samuel. SIR CHARLES GRANDISON (1753-4)
- _________________. #97 THE RAMBLER (quoted)
- Lewis, Matthew Gregory. THE MONK (1796)
- Johnson, Samuel. JOHNSON’S DICTIONARY (1755)
- Blair, Hugh. LECTURES OF RHETORIC (1783)
- Hume, David. HISTORY OF ENGLAND (1754-62)
- Robertson, William. HISTORY OF SCOTLAND (1759)
- “The Mirror”, an essay by John Homespun, March 6, 1779.
- Cowper, William [noted in the Biographical Notice by Henry Austen as JA’s favorite poetic moralist]
- Gilpin, William. Three essays on the Picturesque: Beauty, Travel, Sketching Landscape (1792)
- Gay, John. FABLES: “The Hare and Many Friends” (1727)
- Pope, Alexander. “Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady” (1717)
- Gray, Thomas. [his ELEGY is misquoted]
- Shakespeare, William. [misquoted OTHELLO, MEASURE FOR MEASURE, TWELFTH NIGHT ]
- Thompson… “The Seasons” [misquoting “The Spring” ]
- Milton, John. [ mentioned ]
- Moss, Rev. Thomas. “The Beggars Petition” from POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS (1769)
- Prior, Matthew. [there is an undocumented reference to Prior in the “Literary Allusions” listing noted below for NA; Prior’s HENRY AND EMMA (1709) is alluded to in Persuasion]
- THE SPECTATOR
- Sterne, Laurence. A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
William Gilpin's "Picturesque" View of Tintern Abbey
1. “Literary Allusions in Jane Austen’s Writings” at The Republic of Pemberley (mostly compiled from Chapman’s indexes)
2. Ehrenpreis, Anne Henry. “Introduction to Northanger Abbey“ [ Penguin, 1972 ]. An excellent introduction to the novel, with notes on all the books cited by Austen, with a nice discussion of the “horrid” novels as well as references to other works cited in the novel.
3. Chapman, R.W. Indexes to Northanger Abbey and Persuasion [ volume 5 of his edition ]
I am a lover of booklists, and here is one from Ms. Place on Jane Austen’s World Blog (taken partially from the Big Read on the BBC, and several other blogs)… I repeat this here and send it out to you all…a great list, so follow the instructions and see where you have been and where you might go on your reading journey….
(though I do have to add that this is not a list of the 100 BEST books by any means…it seems an interesting compilation of classics and a number of contemporary titles that are not perhaps the best literature, but good reads…there are also some very obvious errors and omissions…, but one cannot quibble with any such list…it is always subjective and bears the bias of the listmaker….but a great place to start in case you need a push. I also find it hard to believe that the average adult has only read SIX of these titles? Yikes! So I append the list with none of my markings as yet…I will post my results in a comment. So let’s hear from you and what your reading score might be….
“The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them.”
1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (a good many of them)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
I was having dinner with a great buddy the other night and we of course got talking about Jane Austen, as we are wont to do….we have both been reading Austen for a good number of years, attend the annual JASNA meetings together, and discuss the latest movies, occasionally disagreeing, but have terrific conversations nonetheless. We most often quibble over Fanny Price and Mansfield Park (she dislikes Fanny with a passion, loves Mary & Henry Crawford and hence the whole book tends to lose its bite!) … I have told her that there is now a wonderful new Blog just about Mansfield Park, but alas! she does not care….
But our discussion the other night, with my very NOT Austen-loving husband in rapt attention, tended to the very basic question of “why is Jane Austen so popular right now?” We can say that the movies and Hollywood are driving the popular culture, that Colin Firth as Darcy has changed the face of the romantic hero for all time, that she has always been popular so what’s all the fuss, that she gives us a respite in the world of computers and television and cell phones and ipods always THERE demanding our attention, that her writing is so superb we cannot but read and re-read because there is nothing to compare, her wit and social commentary are unparalleled, etc., etc. …. there is no one answer for sure….but I thought I would put this to the blog test and see what sort of response we can get from the cyberspace world out there that is filled with Austen blogs, sites, comments, articles…and just give you all a chance to wax poetic on this very basic thought: why IS Austen so popular now? and why are her 6 novels (plus all the other wonderful jottings) on YOUR reading pile? Any thoughts and comments appreciated….especially from those who might be better than me at convincing my friend that Mansfield Park is quite a delightful book after all!
[there is a great article on this question at the Masterpiece Theatre site, titled Why Jane? Why Now? ]
The Reading Experience Database 1450-1945 is a project the Open University (UK) launched in 1996, with the aim of accumulating data about the reading experience of British subjects. It is a searchable database of all citations in printed materials (i.e. letters, memoirs, diaries, journals, reading notebooks, autobiographies, court records, annotations, marginalia, etc.) linking an individual to their reading. An example is Susan Ferrier, who commented in a letter on reading Jane Austen’s Emma in 1816, and there are many citations to Jane Austen’s own reading. This material is already prompting the need for a reassessment of the opinions about 18th and 19th century reading practices. For instance, the belief that 19th-century women read nothing but novels is disputed by the findings that women of this period read an extremely wide range of genres, including philosophy, mathematics and the Classics. You can find the link at: http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/RED/index.html (the link is also in our ‘Literary Resources” list.) And note that RED actively solicits contributions of material for inclusion in the database. 1
[1. See The Female Spectator, vol.11, no.1, Spring 2007]