Republication of a Classic
Jane Austen’s Literary Manuscripts: A Study of the Novelist’s
Development through the Surviving Papers
By Brian Southam.
The Athlone Press, 2002 (Revised Edition;
First Edition 1964). xv + 159 pages.
Reviewed by Laura Mooneyham White.
scholars and students will greet with pleasure the reissue of Southam’s
critically acclaimed 1964 account of Austen’s manuscripts: her
Juvenilia, Lady Susan, and
the two uncompleted novels, The
Watsons and Sanditon,
her satiric Plan of a Novel,
and the only remaining manuscript portions of a major novel, the
original Chapters Ten and Eleven of Persuasion.
New to this reissue is a brief discussion of the only manuscript
discovery since Southam’s first edition: Sir Charles Grandison, one of the
adolescent Austen’s family plays (a text Southam edited and explicated
in full for Oxford University Press in 1981).
Southam meticulously reviews all the textual issues the manuscripts
raise as well as providing a first-rate overview of the contribution
these manuscript texts make to our understanding of Austen’s
development as a professional writer. Southam’s precise and thoughtful
account is valuable all the more for its ability to dispel once and for
all the myth of Austen the unconscious, intuitive author, creating
works of genius without much forethought; his work forcefully reminds
us of Austen’s own complex understanding of her artistic choices.
White is Associate Professor of English at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln, the editor of Critical
Essays on Jane Austen (1998) and the
author of Romance,
Language and Education in Jane Austen’s Novels (Macmillan, 1988).
v.19, no. 1, Spring 2003, p. 19
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