Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon
Oxford World’s Classics edition, 2003 (Oxford University Press)
Source: Personal copy
I wasn’t in the mood for Northanger Abbey after all, so I decided to read Austen’s unfinished works. I only got as far as Lady Susan, which was finished but unpublished.
I like to read the introduction to classic novels before I read them to get some context. This edition’s introduction (and notes) is by Claudia L. Johnson. According to the introduction, a novel in letters was considered a classic novel when Austen began this in the 1790s. She wondered what the scheming villian of Clarissa would be like as a woman. Lady Susan tricks the Vernon family into giving her money, while writing to her confidante about how awesome she is at tricking people. Catherine Vernon knows about her reputation, and therfore suspects Lady Susan of not being sincere. Catherine describes her terrible behavior in letters to her mother.
Writing an epistolary novel was difficult for Austen, as she ends the story with a third-person “Conclusion.” If the same story was in third person, it probably would have focused on Catherine knowing her husband was being duped, and being powerless to stop it until the end. Overall, I liked this story.
I enjoyed my first Austen in August! Even though I didn’t enter any giveaways, I liked reading other people’s posts on Austen and her works. I’m looking forward to sharing more thoughts next year!