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Discuss Sanditon > Austen's Unfinished Sanditon

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message 1: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
The crazy life of an Austen group moderator.... either I forgot to post this folder or deleted it? Here it is again for discussion of Austen's unfinished novel Sanditon.

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Austen's Sanditon appears to have been begun in January 1817 and her work on it was last dated 18 March 1817; and is a fragment that seemed to have endless possibilities; and I am convinced would have been a delightfully funny and satirical novel had Austen lived to complete it. While one can make a fairly educated guess as to how The Watsons may have ended, one cannot really hazard a guess as to where Austen intended to take Sanditon. Overall, it is a pretty rough fragment too, and she most certainly would have spent time cleaning it up. It appears to represent the last serious prose writing that she initiated after the completion of Persuasion and before she passed away on 18 July 1817.

It is interesting that Sanditon starts with a carriage accident. Austen lost two close friends (one a cousin, I believe) to horse and carriage accidents. Also, given that Austen probably knew that she was desparately ill, it is incredibly ironic at how much this fragment focuses on some of her character's perceived illnesses and the restorative power of being by the sea and 'sea-bathing'. Time and time again, there are references to the healthful benefits to be derived from sea and coast.

I think the other major theme that jumped out at me in reading Sanditon was the allusions to the contrasts between the old and the new. Sanditon is a new town, competing for tourists with the tried and true coastal resorts. The new style of houses being constructed there and their location (i.e., on hill-tops or bluffs and not down in swales, etc.). Austen, in the fragment, immediately contrasts the sensibilities and opinions of the nouveau riche (e.g., the Parkers) with the countrified gentleman, Mr. Heywood, Charlotte's father, and then later with the aristocratic Lady Denham. It may be that Austen may have sensed a change in the winds in the way the middle classes could be recognized and empowered in society, i.e., through being business-savy and with a good education (although we're still some 15, or so, years from the first Reform Law being passed).

Anyway, this is one of the fragments I would have loved to have seen her finish (well, I would have liked to have seen The Watsons finished too). Sanditon seems to have had so much potential as a full-length novel. I look forward to what others have to say about this interesting little fragment.

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