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Jane Austen's Fiction Manuscripts - (Hardcover)

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Kathryn Sutherland presents an edition of the fiction manuscripts of Jane Austen (1775-1817) in this five-volume set. Scholars have pored over this much-loved novelist for decades, yet there are still more riches to be uncovered by the careful presentation of the texts in this fully annotated new edition. Jane Austen's fiction manuscripts are the first substantial collection of autograph writings to survive for a British novelist. They represent every stage of her writing life, from childhood--aged 11 or 12--to the year of her death. The manuscripts represent a wide variety of physical states: working drafts, fair copies, and handwritten publications for private circulation. Where the juvenile, handwritten notebooks have long appeared to scholars to be finished artefacts, most of the other manuscript writings consist of pre-print or working drafts in various stages of development. There is no evidence to indicate that Austen saw the bulk of these working drafts as anything other than provisional. Hence the stark situation that no manuscripts remain for works which saw publication in her lifetime, the assumption being that these were routinely destroyed once replaced by print forms. There is only one exception: the two cancelled chapters of Persuasion, which represent an alternative ending to the one that made it into print. The manuscript evidence therefore represents a different Jane Austen: different in the range of fiction they contain from the novels we know only from print; and different in what they reveal about the workings of her imagination. Because of the variety of their pre-print states, because of their experimental range, and because of the way they extend the time span of her writing life (far longer than the single decade of the printed novels), these manuscript writings can claim a special place in our understanding of the evolution of the famous fictions. The edition presents full transcriptions of the texts based on a fresh examination of all the extant witnesses in Austen's hand, with facing facsimile images of the manuscript pages, and commentary on revisions, over-writings, erasures, and other features of the manuscripts.

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