Welcome to Part Two of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, our October audio adventure in Tales for Our Time. If you seek something more obviously timely, you may prefer our brace of Orwellian adaptations - Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four - or even a contemporary inversion of a classic, retooled for our wretched times, by yours truly. Whatever your taste, we have plenty of other yarns in all genres over on our Tales for Our Time home page.
Mark's introduction leaves me quite favorably disposed toward this TFOT. The young Miss Austen's modest pretension to write a satire of the Gothic novel brings to mind the sixteenth century Spanish writer of middle age whose modest pretension was to satirize the fashionable novels of chivalry of his day. A keen yet affectionate understanding of human nature underlies the work of both Austen and Cervantes; Don Quixote continues to delight centuries after the last novel of chivalry has crumbled to dust.
Also I would like to mention that Mark's episode titles are themselves amazing. How does he do it?
Well, sometimes they're good, Maggie; sometimes, as above, merely serviceable. But, as the headline suggests, in Part Two of Northanger Abbey Catherine meets a young gentleman in the Lower Rooms anxious to get all the necessary stuff out of the way as swiftly as possible:
He talked with fluency and spirit—and there was an archness and pleasantry in his manner which interested, though it was hardly understood by her. After chatting some time on such matters as naturally arose from the objects around them, he suddenly addressed her with—"I have hitherto been very remiss, madam, in the proper attentions of a partner here; I have not yet asked you how long you have been in Bath; whether you were ever here before; whether you have been at the Upper Rooms, the theatre, and the concert; and how you like the place altogether. I have been very negligent—but are you now at leisure to satisfy me in these particulars? If you are I will begin directly."
"You need not give yourself that trouble, sir."
"No trouble, I assure you, madam." Then forming his features into a set smile, and affectedly softening his voice, he added, with a simpering air, "Have you been long in Bath, madam?"
"About a week, sir," replied Catherine, trying not to laugh.
"Really!" with affected astonishment.
"Why should you be surprised, sir?"
"Why, indeed!" said he, in his natural tone. "But some emotion must appear to be raised by your reply, and surprise is more easily assumed, and not less reasonable than any other. Now let us go on..."
This somewhat parodic approach to social relations was not expected by Catherine, but she seems to enjoy it:
"And are you altogether pleased with Bath?"
"Yes—I like it very well."
"Now I must give one smirk, and then we may be rational again." Catherine turned away her head, not knowing whether she might venture to laugh. "I see what you think of me," said he gravely—"I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow."
"Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings—plain black shoes—appeared to much advantage; but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed me by his nonsense."
~It was a busy weekend at SteynOnline, beginning with Mark Steyn's Passing Parade and two men with very different views on the meaning of life. Rick McGinnis' weekend movie date examined Albert Brooks, Holly Hunter and William Hurt in Broadcast News. Our Sunday musical selection celebrated Irving Berlin's very first worldwide blockbuster.
If you were too busy interviewing Afghan translators for your Haitian refugees, we hope you'll want to check out one or three of the foregoing as a new week begins. It started, alas, with terrible news of the death of a great hero of free speech. His loss is keenly felt, at least here, because of the mass capitulation by cowardly appeasers across the west.
~Tales for Our Time started as an experimental feature we introduced as a bonus for Mark Steyn Club members, and, as you know, I said if it was a total stinkeroo, we'd eighty-six the thing and speak no more of it. But I'm thrilled to say it's proved very popular, and and we now have quite an archive. If you're a Club member and you incline more to the stinkeroo side of things, give it your best in the Comments Section below.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club well over four years ago, and I'm truly grateful to all those members across the globe who've signed up to be a part of it - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Cook County to the Cook Islands, West Virginia to the West Midlands. If you've enjoyed our monthly Steyn Club audio adventures and you're looking for a present for a fellow fan of classic fiction, I hope you'll consider our special Club Gift Membership. Aside from Tales for Our Time, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
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