To celebrate the bicentenary of Jane Austen's death, host to 6 Degrees of Separation, Books are My Favourite and Best starts this month with one of her most popular books; Pride and Prejudice. It also happens to be my favourite book by Austen.
My chain starts with my second favourite book of hers which is Northanger Abbey. It has a Gothic theme, which reminded me of The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, who was, more or less, contemporary with Jane Austen. This is a Gothic tale in all its glory. I somehow liked it, although it is rather long and could have been shortened.
|The Mysteries of Udolpho by|
Gothic stories always remind me of Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley and John William Polidori and their stay in Switzerland in 1816. Due to bad weather the group was trapped inside and decided to write ghost stories. That is how Frankenstein saw the day of light and became a classic. I saw the movie many years ago, but only read the book a couple of years ago. To my own surprise I liked the book.
From here the step is close to Polidori who, some years later, wrote a book, or a short story called The Vampire. It was based on a fragment made up by Byron during their entrapment. It was the first vampire story in English and it has had a wide ranging influence on how we see vampires as an aristocratic seducer.
That leads me to a modern version, Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Saga. I never really liked vampire stories until I saw the movies and read the books. It is obviously never too late to change.
That leads me to another classic in the vampire and gothic genre; Dracula by Bram Stoker. This book was a complete surprise to me. Especially, that I would like it and that the story was still readable so many centuries after it was written.
There you go. Jane Austen surprisingly led me directly into the Gothic genre, which is also a genre I enjoy reading. I would not normally connect the Gothic writing with Jane Austen. With Northanger Abbey she ventured into this kind of writing and it is a nice diversion compared to her other novels.