Jane Austen – “Northanger Abbey” (1817)

Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be completed for publication, but published after her death, at the end of 1817. The novel is a satire of the Gothic novels popular at the time of its first writing in 1798–99. The heroine, Catherine, thinks life is like a Gothic novel, but her real experiences bring her down to earth as an ordinary young woman.

The novel is more explicitly comic than her other works and contains many literary allusions that her parents and siblings would have enjoyed, as a family entertainment—a piece of lighthearted parody to be read aloud by the fireside. The novel names many of the Gothic novels of that time and includes direct commentary by Austen on the value of novels, which were not valued as much as nonfiction or historical fiction. (Wikipedia)

The company began to disperse when the dancing was over—enough to leave space for the remainder to walk about in some comfort; and now was the time for a heroine, who had not yet played a very distinguished part in the events of the evening, to be noticed and admired. Every five minutes, by removing some of the crowd, gave greater openings for her charms. She was now seen by many young men who had not been near her before. Not one, however, started with rapturous wonder on beholding her, no whisper of eager inquiry ran round the room, nor was she once called a divinity by anybody. Yet Catherine was in very good looks, and had the company only seen her three years before, they would now have thought her exceedingly handsome.

She was looked at, however, and with some admiration; for, in her own hearing, two gentlemen pronounced her to be a pretty girl. Such words had their due effect; she immediately thought the evening pleasanter than she had found it before—her humble vanity was contented—she felt more obliged to the two young men for this simple praise than a true-quality heroine would have been for fifteen sonnets in celebration of her charms, and went to her chair in good humour with everybody, and perfectly satisfied with her share of public attention.

 

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Jerome K. Jerome – “Three Men in a Boat” (1889)

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), published in 1889, is a humorous account by English writer Jerome K. Jerome of a two-week boating holiday on the Thames from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford and back to Kingston. The book was initially intended to be a serious travel guide, with accounts of local history along the route, but the humorous elements took over to the point where the serious and somewhat sentimental passages seem a distraction to the comic novel. … Since its publication, Three Men in a Boat has never been out of print. It continues to be popular to the present day, with The Guardian ranking it No. 33 of The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time. (Wikipedia)

For myself, I have discovered an excellent preventive against sea-sickness, in balancing myself.  You stand in the centre of the deck, and, as the ship heaves and pitches, you move your body about, so as to keep it always straight.  When the front of the ship rises, you lean forward, till the deck almost touches your nose; and when its back end gets up, you lean backwards.  This is all very well for an hour or two; but you can’t balance yourself for a week.

George said:

“Let’s go up the river.”

He said we should have fresh air, exercise and quiet; the constant change of scene would occupy our minds (including what there was of Harris’s); and the hard work would give us a good appetite, and make us sleep well.

Harris said he didn’t think George ought to do anything that would have a tendency to make him sleepier than he always was, as it might be dangerous.  He said he didn’t very well understand how George was going to sleep any more than he did now, seeing that there were only twenty-four hours in each day, summer and winter alike; but thought that if he did sleep any more, he might just as well be dead, and so save his board and lodging.

 

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