Just ahead of our ongoing Tale for Our Time, if you're one of that brave band who prefer me in visual formats, do check out today's Sunday Poem. Garth, a British Columbia member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes:
Thoroughly enjoyed 'Phyllis's Age' (not to mention your reading thereof). It brought to mind something I read earlier about the wrinkle-revealing effect of electric light on the ladies of the candle-lit Victorian era. No kindness to be found in the harsh glare of that stark glare. I think, on reflection, I prefer the candle effect.
Well, we're very much in candle-lit territory for Northanger Abbey, Garth, even though our ladies are somewhat younger than poor Phyllis. I thank listeners for all your kind words on this latest Tale. However, Israel Pickholtz, an Israeli Steyn Clubber, cautions somewhat elliptically:
When I read something by a woman writer, I hear it in a woman's voice. That would include the narrator in novels.
I didn't really think that Mark would give us that in this reading.
Well, one does one's best, Israel. But I take your point.
And, on that note, welcome to Part Fifteen of Jane Austen's first completed novel. In tonight's episode of Northanger Abbey, General Tilney stuns Catherine with a sudden request:
"My daughter, Miss Morland," he continued, without leaving his daughter time to speak, "has been forming a very bold wish. We leave Bath, as she has perhaps told you, on Saturday se'nnight. A letter from my steward tells me that my presence is wanted at home; and being disappointed in my hope of seeing the Marquis of Longtown and General Courteney here, some of my very old friends, there is nothing to detain me longer in Bath. And could we carry our selfish point with you, we should leave it without a single regret. Can you, in short, be prevailed on to quit this scene of public triumph and oblige your friend Eleanor with your company in Gloucestershire..? 'Tis true, we can offer you nothing like the gaieties of this lively place; we can tempt you neither by amusement nor splendour, for our mode of living, as you see, is plain and unpretending; yet no endeavours shall be wanting on our side to make Northanger Abbey not wholly disagreeable."
Northanger Abbey! These were thrilling words, and wound up Catherine's feelings to the highest point of ecstasy.
And so a voracious consumer of Gothic fiction finally gets to go to an ancient abbey!
If you've a friend who's a fan of classic literature and you want to give him or her a present with a difference, we hope you'll consider a one-year gift membership in The Mark Steyn Club. The lucky recipient will enjoy full access to our back catalogue of audio adventures and video poems - Conrad and Conan Doyle, Orwell and Orczy, Kipling and Kafka, and all the rest - which should keep you going until the next variant arrives, or at least until the Year Zero crowd has had all the books banned. For more details, see here.
Through the hell of 2021, our nightly audio adventure goes on, so do join me right back here tomorrow for Northanger Abbey Part Sixteen.