BOOK REVIEWS
George Justice, Editor

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.
Paperback. $29.95.

Reviewed by Laura Mooneyham White.


Austen 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.


Laura Mooneyham 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).

JASNA News v.19, no. 1, Spring 2003, p. 19

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