Jane on correspondents

Another quotation postcard from Jane Austen (from Chris Ambidge), this time with some genuine linguistic interest:

Chris disagreed with the quotation (he and I are dependable correspondents, at least for one another) — but then this is not an expression of Jane’s own opinion, but a statement by one of her characters, which is quite a different thing. From Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon, which is about (among other things) the creation of a new English seaside town in the early 19th century.

From Wikipedia:

In Sanditon, Austen explored her interest in the verbal construction [through conversation and correspondence] of a society by means of a town – and a set of families – that is still in the process of being formed. Austen began work on the novel in January 1817 and abandoned it on 18 March 1817.

… The people of “modern Sanditon”, as Austen calls it, have moved out of the “old house – the house of [their] forefathers” and are busily constructing a new world in the form of a modern seaside commercial town. The town of Sanditon is probably based on Worthing, where Austen stayed in late 1805 when the resort was first being developed; or on Eastbourne; or on Bognor Regis

… From … conversations amongst intimates, Sanditon’s fame spreads through letters and by word of mouth.

That is, a social world is constructed through talk.

The Wikipedia piece notes:

Because Austen completed setting the scene for Sanditon, it has been a favourite of “continuators” – later writers who try to complete the novel within Austen’s vision while emulating her style.

It lists nine completions, including a Dalziel and Pascoe detective novel by Reginald Hill.

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