Thursday, August 21, 2008

Henry Tilney's Diary - Part 5

When I write the heroes' diaries I try to keep the tone similar to the tone of the original, bearing in mind that it's seen through the hero's eyes, so in Henry Tilney's Diary I want to reflect the fact that Northanger Abbey is a Gothic, albeit a kind of spoof.

I agonised over this idea for ages because I couldn't see how to do it. In Northanger Abbey it's Catherine who brings the Gothic element because she imagines herself to be in one of Mrs Radcliffe's novels, but with Henry being a very different kind of person it was difficult to see how to do it. And then a line in the original gave me the clue because Henry and Eleanor read Gothic novels together.

This is perfect from my point of view because I can have some Gothic scenes, with thunder rolling outside the Abbey window and Henry and Eleanor sitting indoors, reading one of Mrs Radcliffe's novels by candlelight. If I add in some over-the-top Gothic elements like a few flashes of lightning the Gothic scene will be set.

It will also allow me to do something else I wanted to do, that is, introduce some text from The Mysteries of Udolpho. I know that not everyone will have read Mrs Radcliffe's classic, and that some people won't realise it's an actual novel, so this will allow me to give them a taste of the book.

I want to include something about the black veil, because Catherine and Isabella mention this in Northanger Abbey. Readers in Jane Austen's time would have read the scene and so they would know exactly what Austen was talking about. I want to give modern readers the same kind of knowledge.

The only thing I can't decide at the moment is whether or not I should have a later scene in which Henry and his sister read the passage that reveals what lies behind the veil. Would that spoil it for anyone who hasn't read Udolpho, or do I anticipate that everyone who is likely to do so has already read it and therefore they know the answer to this question?

At the moment I can't decide. One thing's for sure, there will be some very Gothic scenes in Henry's diary.

Amanda Grange


Anonymous said...

Fascinating insight into how you apporach the diaries, Amanda. you could perhaps have an author's note at the back of the book for anyone who wants to know what lies behind the veil but doesn't want to plough through the whole novel (and let's be honest, it's a big book!)


Anonymous said...

The diaries you've written are, in my opinion, brilliant!I adored the whole story of Emma and now I can compare it to Mr. Knightley's diary. It is the perfect companion book. It is and interesting thought to see the plot of Emma from another's view. I can just imagine a Mrs. Weston Diary or a Mr. Woodhouse diary. This book made me think of Mr. Knightley not so much as a storybook character as a real person. But, I really think thes person is a little less desperate than you presented him in this book. I suppose he would have been on the lookout for a wife, but not trying to match himself to every woman he meets. Anyway, you're writing is first rate and I thank you for providing me with an enjoyable book.

-Mary W.

Anonymous said...

The important thing about the black veil, in my view, is that the plot of Udolpho is set up so that Catherine, or any reader who is paying attention, should very much be thinking that Signora Laurentini's skeleton is behind that black veil. The fact that something else is there--and that it's mentioned at the end almost as a footnote after the big buildup--is, I think, what Jane Austen was commenting on--that the payoff didn't match the buildup. Like the Thorpes (and NOT like the Tilneys), it was misleading. So perhaps you could introduce that theme without directly giving away what is behind the black veil (and Melinda's idea to add it as an author's note is excellent).

I still think about this stuff too much. :-)

Anonymous said...

I like Melinda's suggestion about the author's note, or maybe I could put it on my website, with suitable spoiler warnings.
But you don't think the Tilneys are misleading, Mags. The General leads Catherine to believe he likes her when all he likes is her supposed money. I think about this stuff far too much, too!

Anonymous said...

Oh--by the Tilneys I just meant the brother-sister pair, Henry and Eleanor, as opposed to the brother-sister Thorpe pair, John and Isabella. Or at least Isabella is misleading; Catherine has John's number pretty much from the start, though she doesn't trust her own judgment enough to realize it. The General is absolutely misleading! Sorry for the lack of clarity.

Unknown said...

In my opinion, the diary you have written is very interesting and brilliant and the characters used in it is too fabulous and it creates a very good impact on the learner about the story and the author.

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