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Thread: Sanditon

  1. #1
    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Sanditon

    OK, Jane Austen enthusiasts, what do you think of Sanditon, the fragment of her last novel left unfinished at the death? I read it last winter. This evening I heard a programme on BBC Radio 3 which suggested if she had finished it, it would have changed the nature of the English novel. The theory was that it was a pair with Persuasion as both books are about risk. I’m not at all convinced. Certainly it doesn’t seem to be likely to be based so much on the formula of a young woman making a satisfactory marriage, and is more concerned with a satiric view of a society.

    But it seems crude to me compared to the earlier works. In them characters give themselves away in the course of dialogue. In the fragment of Sanditon, the characters satirised each do so in a long monologue – which is far less subtle.

    She wrote the fragment in the months before her death and although in letters she insisted she was getting stronger, she must have known at least unconsciously that she wasn’t. The characters satirised are all hypochondriacs and I have the impression Jane was pathetically if heroically trying to deny her own ill health by mocking those who claimed to be ill with no good reason.

    Does anyone else have any ideas?
    Previously JonathanB

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  2. #2
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I didn´t read it yet but it sounds very funny.
    For now there are two links that might interest.
    The first one is a pdf of the fragment:
    http://bjzc.org/lib/96/ywyz/ts096068.pdf
    I also included the wikipedia link because it contains a list of the people that took it on themselves to complete the novel.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanditon
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 05-29-2016 at 07:13 PM.
    "You can always find something better than death."
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  3. #3
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Some aspects I noticed about the fragment:
    The social environment seems to have shrunk: instead of the manor houses of the landed gentry of former works what we have now is a modest bathing resort that is to be turned into a financial success.The social distance between the characters also seems to be smaller and the country nobility doesn´t seem so important any more as in her earlier novels. Lady Denham isn´t as far as impressive as Lady Darcy of Pride and Prejudice. In fact there is no character that really stands out in this 80 pages.
    On the other hand, Charlotte is in a less desperate situation than other Austen protagonist. Her family belongs to the modest landed gentry, they own the land they live on. So instead of focusing on the girl's marriage prospects the novel aims at satirizing the society of Sanditon.
    I agree with you, J., that the long monologues aren´t a good solution. Also that the health issue, with hipochondrical people suffering from ridiculous ailments, might be a manner of Jane laughing away her own illness.
    Please what kind of illness is "Six leeches"?
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 05-31-2016 at 10:11 PM.
    "You can always find something better than death."
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    The "six leeches" were a treatment, not an illness. Believing that many complaints were caused by too much blood (or bad humours in the blood or what-not), leeches were a way of bleeding the patient. It appears that the lady applied six leeches to herself each night yet felt no better.

    I just finished Sanditon last night. I agree it was unpolished. While I could see the potential the characters possessed, it is hidden in a short and undeveloped form. If finished, I don't doubt it would have been on par with her other novels--perhaps even her greatest, but I think it would be a misreading of history to imagine it would have "changed the nature of the English novel."

  5. #5
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Thanks for the explanation, togre. I knew the applying of leeches as an old form of bleeding, but understood that some illness was meant.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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