Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Bath Dream

As you know, I am rereading Persuasion. And wishing I were in Bath. Today I was thinking that it'd be fun to read a biography of Jane Austen* while reading the Austen canon. I'd read about the first 21 years of her life, then read Pride and Prejudice. I'd read another two years of her biography, then read Northanger Abbey. I would continue on in such a manner until I'd read the whole of her biography and the whole of her novels in the order she'd written them.**

But then I had a further brilliant idea—what if I actually went to Bath to read Austen? A trip to Bath long enough to read the six novels plus a biography might be a bit much (though not outside the realm of possibility; why not bunker down in Bath for a while?), but I could vacation there long enough to read Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, the two set in Bath. These would also be a good pairing since Northanger Abbey was her first novel and Persuasion her last, with rather different tones and plots, and both were published in a single volume posthumously. Isn't this a grand plan?

*Though from what I've heard, there's not a lot known about her life.
**The actual order I'd read the novels in is confusing to figure out, since they weren't published in the order they were written, and they're even seems to be some confusion on whether Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice was published first. Northanger Abbey is generally considered her first novel, but it looks like she perhaps wrote drafts of S&S and P&P before starting NA, and then NA was actually published last.


  1. Oh my god, brilliant idea (both of them). Can I tag along with you to Bath? When I went with Mother Dear, I was almost constantly freaking out. "Eeeeeee! We're in the Pump Room! OMG Pump Room!" But since she hasn't read Persuasion or Northanger, I was probably mostly just obnoxious. Also, Bath is lovely. Conclusion: we should go to Bath.