of not only Gothic novels but more importantly, of those readers who do not excercise judgement so tend to mistake fantasy for reality'.
If I read correctly, Reeba also concludes that the reader is being parodied along with the 'gothic' novel.
On NA, Reeba and I share very similar views on this issue. :)
I think the real polemic is reserved for readers like Isabella Thorpe.
However, we see there are different sorts of readers. As you say, the Tilneys are 'steeped in reality'.
I think Mr Allen maybe a commonsense sort of reader.
What of Mrs Allan ? Well, she knew how to read a fashion plate ! ;)
I wonder what General Tilney reads.
NA isn't just about books but of how we read them.
Also, about how we read people- how did e.g James 'read the Thorpes or Catherine 'read' Isabella. Also, of reading situations in daily life. This is why we need to use our judgement.
However, there's nothing wrotng with entertainment ! JA enjoyed concerts, theatre and dancing which are all mentioned in NA.
I think this is the idea of her Defence of the novel. Why not enjoy novels for amusement and a good laugh ? Yes, I have no doubt JA laughed at many novels.
Yet why should a novel be condemned just because it's somewhat unreal. Authors like Mrs Radcliffe and Regina Maria Roche did not claim to impart values or moral lessons to their readers (although heroines were often moral and virtous). This may explain why some of these authors were felt free to use scenes of terror or horror to amuse their readers.
JA may have reflected often these novels were better written than Golding's History which she parodied in her own History of England. Check the 'Defence of the novel' in Ch. 5 again. She seems pretty critical of the way some Compiltions of Poetry were thrown together. Recall, the essay you drew to the GR's attention earlier ? The father recommends his daughters be careful about showing their common-sense ?
That provides an example of unreal expectations of women's behaviour not in a Gothic, but a moral essay. Would JA take such essays seriously.
(JA's own father had a good library at Steventon Parsonage which included Gothics and allowed his daughter full use of his books.
Unfotunately that library was broken up when the Austens moved. However, I will surmise, like the Tilneys JA was a versatile reader.)
JA is surely laughing at Gothic books as well. Perhaps their lack of reality with fainting heroines and weepy heroes like Valancourt. I've read JA seemed to prefer Emily's friend Henri de Villefort. Henri ? ;)
In NA, I think she's laughing at many things. JA wasn't just laughing at the books- but the readers, and likely authors, reviewers and even herself as a sister author and reader of gothic novels. It is suggested there is even a blast at her first publisher Richard Crosby who held back pulication of NA, then known as 'Susan'.
Importantly, JA is also dealing with other forms of 'reading' in society.
Pardon lengthy post.