Sanditon by Jane Austen, edited by Kathryn Sutherland

Sanditon

Jane Austen has long been one of my favourite authors so I was delighted when Georgie Malcolm at the Oxford University Press contacted me to see if was interested in a review copy of a new edition of Jane Austen’s final, incomplete work Sanditon, edited with an introduction and explanatory notes on the text by Austen expert and Oxford University lecturer Kathryn Sutherland. 

In Sanditon, Jane Austen writes what may well be the first seaside novel: a novel, that is, that explores the mysterious and startling transformations that a stay by the sea can work on individuals and relationships. Sanditon is a fictitious place on England’s south coast and the obsession of local landowner Mr Thomas Parker. He means to transform this humble fishing village into a fashionable health resort to rival its famous neighbours of Brighton and Eastbourne. 

In this, her final, unfinished work, the writer sets aside her familiar subject matter, the country village with its settled community, for the transient and eccentric assortment of people who drift to the new resort, the town built upon sand. If the ground beneath her characters’ feet appears less secure, Austen’s own vision is opening out. Light and funny, Sanditon is her most experimental and poignant work.

I first read Sanditon only four years ago, in a combined publication of  Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon and reviewed it in this post. I thoroughly enjoyed Sanditon, even in its unfinished state. It’s the last fiction that Jane Austen wrote, beginning it in January 1817, the year she died.

I’m looking forward to reading this new edition with great interest, particularly the introduction and the notes explaining literary allusions, references to diseases and contemporary medical treatments, Regency fashions, quasi-specialist language, etc. It certainly looks excellent!

And I see that ITV has a new adaptation by Andrew Davies of Sanditon that will air in eight parts this autumn.

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (25 July 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198840837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198840831

8 thoughts on “Sanditon by Jane Austen, edited by Kathryn Sutherland”

  1. Oh, that sounds lovely, Margaret! Lucky you to get to read that new edition! I’ll look froward to your thoughts on it.

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  2. How about this for a coincidence? We have engaged a landscape gardener to do a make over – turns out he is in this series (a minor role as a drunk). The day he was able to disclose the name of the programme I got the contact from Oxford World Classics just like you did. so of course I have to read it and watch the programme now. By the way, they are already planning .a second series which seems strange for such a slight novel…..

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    1. Yes, what a coincidence! I wondered about how it would fill eight episodes, but a second series too makes me think it must be ‘based’ on the book and given it an ending. We’ll just have to wait and see, I suppose.

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  3. I have Sanditon on my tbr pile, completed by ‘Another Lady’. Delighted to hear ITV are doing it, so I must read it before then. I wonder if they will ‘finish’ it in the drama?

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    1. Cath, I’ve just seen this article about ITV’s Sanditon – it will indeed ‘finish’ Jane Austen’s book. She had written 12 chapters before she died and ‘ITV’s eight-part drama takes these chapters as a starting point before spiralling off in directions that are all its writers’ invention.’ It also adds ‘Sex, nudity and slavery’.

      Screenwriter Andrew Davies says:

      “I aim to please myself when writing these things,” says Davies, who admits “sexing it up comes fairly naturally”.

      “If it’s not there, I think ‘let’s put some in,'” he explains. “I like to write it and I like to watch it.”

      Just what I expected – not really Jane Austen’s work, then! It all depends on what you like …

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