Northanger Abbey: ITV and social isolation.

Naturally, since I’m reading Northanger Abbey, I had an itch to watch the ITV adaptation again — which, by the way, my friend tells me should come out in DVD sometime in February (the lucky UK-ers et al. already have it out). Watching it again was much more enjoyable this time around, possibly because my re-reading of the novel and my recently acquired (albeit, somewhat sparse) understanding of the gothic novel and Romance tradition helped me appreciate the story more.

But in any case, some thoughts:

John Thorpe is more pleasant in the adaptation than his original in the novel. In this, I feel that the ’86 BBC version is more accurate in his portrayal. ITV’s interpretation of him is much too sympathetic — he’s a goof and something of a simpleton, but he’s still amiable. Not so in the novel! He’s utterly and completely unpleasant. His language is coarse, he has no care for his sisters or mother, and can be just as manipulative as Isabella (eg., his lying to Catherine about seeing the Tilneys — ITV’s Mr. Thorpe did it for his sister, and out of an affection for Catherine; novel-Thorpe makes no such justifications). Makes me wonder what in the world persuaded James to befriend the man in the first place!

As for Catherine, she is much more Arabella-like than I remember. It’s interesting how, despite Catherine’s naïveté, she can still deduce truth — just like Arabella can at times, despite her utterly deluded head. For example, in chapter 7, Catherine accepts Mr. Thorpe’s offer to drive her around in an open carriage, but immediately and silently questions the propriety of such an offer. Moments like this persuade me to believe that Catherine isn’t as naïve as most people make her out to be. Austenprose blogged about Northanger Abbey last week, and discussed briefly how Catherine makes not-so-good decisions based on her inexperience with society. I agree with that. The first chapter makes it clear that Catherine really hasn’t seen much of the world outside her village of Fullerton. Therefore, it’s not so surprising that she gets caught in these awkward situations — she was never taught what to do should such situations arise. So while her conscience and reason warn her most excellently, her lack of “social education” hinders her from saying ‘no’ when the occasion calls for one.

Which makes me believe that it’s not so much reading that gets young ladies into trouble, but rather social isolation and social education (or lack, thereof).

A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael

I found a copy of this book lying beneath Gina’s bed a week or so ago. Having not asked her formally for permission if I could borrow it, I’ve been reading it “in secret” on and off during our afternoon break time. It’s quite a good book. I usually don’t like reading biographies or autobiographies (they always seem to bore me), but I make exceptions when it comes to life stories of the “giants” of the faith. When it comes to Christian books, biographies are my favorite because I feel it’s so much more personal and relateable and just plain interesting. Don’t get me wrong, books like Think Biblically! and A Woman After God’s Own Heart are definitely good reads. But reading about the struggles and life stories of men and women who ardently loved and lived their life for the Lord from their own personal perspective is pretty amazing. Makes them more “real,” you know? And it’s always so encouraging, knowing that they too struggled and wrestled.

One thing that keeps on sticking out to me as I read this book, is Amy Carmichael’s unquenchable zeal for her Master’s business of saving souls. Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China, once spoke at a local meeting, which Amy attended, about how thousands die in darkness every day without ever having known Jesus Christ or heard the gospel. She was affected greatly by that, as evident when she wrote:

“Does it not stir up our hearts to go forth and help them, does it not make us long to leave our luxury, our exceeding abundant light, and go to them that sit in darkness!”

(pg. 41)

For sure, it challenged and rebuked my own indifference and lack of love for sharing the gospel. If we believe that the Bible is true, then what it says about us having souls with eternal destinations must be true too: that we all die once, and after that face judgment (Heb. 9:27)—heaven or hell. Amy understood that well, as she found it impossible to just sit around when multitudes of people are dying out there without having heard the Good News that saves from an eternity of punishment for sins in hell. People need to hear, but how would they hear without someone to tell them about it? (Rom. 10:14)

In the song “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken,” I really like this one particular phrase:

Soul, then know thy full salvation

Soul, do you know thy full salvation? Do you know why the gospel is called “good news,” why Jesus Himself commanded us to spread the gospel to all nations? Imagine, Soul—your countless sins have been forgiven before the righteous and holy God because of your faith in Christ! You are no perfect being, yet you are counted as RIGHTEOUS before Him (Col. 1:21-22), who knows and perceives the very depths of your heart.