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‘Only a Novel’: Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1817), novel readers and The Circulating Library (1804) in ‘fictions about fiction’ in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries - Freya Gye

The Circulating Library presents a stereotyped image of the novel reader – young, undiscerning, searching for adventure and, above all, female. Northanger Abbey addresses this stereotype, reinforcing through the character of Catherine the perception of the vacuous, voracious reader, while simultaneously putting forward an alternative image of a novel reader who is judicious, reasonable, and, in some cases, male. This article will explore the ways in which the image and the novel present a picture of the novel reader around the turn of the nineteenth century, whether they genuinely reflect the perceptions of society at large, and what light they cast on real novel readers of the time.

Date created: 
Monday, April 23, 2018
Attribution for this resource:
‘Only a Novel’: Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1817), novel readers and The Circulating Library (1804) in ‘fictions about fiction’ in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries - Freya Gye, All rights reserved.
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