Just ahead of Episode Twelve of Northanger Abbey, a reminder that this weekend I'll be here with another of Steyn's Sunday Poems - because, as I always say, video poetry is where the big bucks are.
Thank you again for your kind comments about this latest and all our other Tales for Our Time. Over four years ago now, we launched this series of audio adventures on a whim, threw it together somewhat hastily, and learned on the job. So I'm enormously grateful for your appreciation of it. Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey is our autumnal diversion - a tale of an impressionable young lady and the Gothic novels that exercise such a grip on her imagination. After the other night, Wanda Sherratt, a First Week Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from Ottawa, points out that, for a woman who fantasizes about being a literary heroine, Catherine doesn't always appreciate when she's actually in a Gothic scenario:
One of the staples of Gothic thrillers was the abduction of the heroine by a villain in a coach. Catherine is so busy daydreaming about Udolpho and adventures in Italy and France that she doesn't even notice that she's the protagonist in a farcical parody abduction, swept away in a gig in broad daylight by a low-rent chatterbox Lothario.
Tonight's episode includes one of my favorite scenes, and I hope I've done it justice. After the political talk has ground to a halt, Catherine attempts to appear worldly:
The general pause which succeeded his short disquisition on the state of the nation was put an end to by Catherine, who, in rather a solemn tone of voice, uttered these words, "I have heard that something very shocking indeed will soon come out in London."
Miss Tilney, to whom this was chiefly addressed, was startled, and hastily replied, "Indeed! And of what nature?"
"That I do not know, nor who is the author. I have only heard that it is to be more horrible than anything we have met with yet."
"Good heaven! Where could you hear of such a thing?"
"A particular friend of mine had an account of it in a letter from London yesterday. It is to be uncommonly dreadful. I shall expect murder and everything of the kind."
"You speak with astonishing composure! But I hope your friend's accounts have been exaggerated; and if such a design is known beforehand, proper measures will undoubtedly be taken by government to prevent its coming to effect."
Easy to laugh, but it occurs to me that much of the western world is in a permanent crouch of anticipatory terror before something "uncommonly dreadful", be it rising sea levels or the next double-mutant variation.
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Please join me tomorrow for Part Thirteen of Northanger Abbey.
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