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Have you read Austen's last novel?
Jane Austen completed not quite 12 chapters of her final novel, Sanditon. Many writers have attempted to finish it since her death, but how do you build on such a puzzling beginning? Kathryn Sutherland, Professor of Bibliography and Textual Criticism, St Anne's College, Oxford, is editor of the new Oxford World Classic’s edition of Sanditon, as well as Austen's Teenage Writings and Austen-Leigh's Memoir of Jane Austen and Other Family Recollections. Discussing the enduring fascination with Sanditon, she writes:
Unfinished works tease us. They come with baggage. They cling to their authors whose lives, in turn, weigh heavy upon them. Why were they broken off? How might they be continued? With Sanditon, unlike The Watsons and Kitty, or the Bower, two other unfinished Austen fictions, the why is obvious: only months after beginning the new novel, Jane Austen died. The how is far less certain.
Continue reading on the OUP blog
For additional background about Sanditon, Professor Sutherland has also contributed an article for The Guardian. Meanwhile, noted screenwriter Andrew Davies has finished his own version of the story for television in an ITV adaptation starring Rose Williams as Charlotte Heywood and Theo James as Sidney Parker. It is currently being broadcast in the UK.
October 2, 2019