Emily Friedman deposited Austen Among the Fragments: Understanding the Fate of Sanditon (1817) on Humanities Commons 3 years, 2 months ago
Jane Austen’s Sanditon (begun 1807) is something of a mystery for Austen scholars. Since its first description in 1871 and its publication in 1925, Austen’s incomplete final novel fragment has inspired innumerable essays speculating about Austen’s intentions and plans, and countless continuations that attempt to provide a plot on top of Austen’s foundation. This essay tackles a different question: Why did Sanditon not see print for 108 years? Austen’s fragmentary final novel needs reconsideration within the context of the other, published fragments of the period. Mary Brunton’s posthumous fragment Emmeline (1819) is considered here as the fragment that is most closely contextually related to Austen’s. Emmeline illustrates an alternate potential for the fate of Sanditon, one as tied up in technique as in contemporary fame and literary executors. Through Emmeline’s example, it is possible to imagine an alternate history for Sanditon in the 1810s, one that gives a better sense of the literary marketplace for the fragment.