Jane Austen: The Watsons/Sanditon

Naxos AudioBooks: NA428112

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Jane Austen: The Watsons/Sanditon

Catalogue No:

NA428112

Discs:

4

Release date:

28th June 2010

Barcode:

9789626342817

Length:

4 hours 28 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Jane Austen: The Watsons/Sanditon


Read by Anna Bentinck

CD - 4 discs

$20.75

(also available to download from $33.25)

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We can never know why Jane Austen, having started The Watsons, felt no inclination to return to it in later years, as she did to some other works. (The title is not hers but was provided by Austen-Leigh.) As it stands, the work has five chapters and is less than 18,000 words long. Though there is some evidence of revision, it still has the feel of a first draft, with abrupt shifts in the action and some holes in the plot. Had Jane gone back to it she would certainly have provided linking passages and dialogue to fill in the perceived gaps. Also absent are the spirit, the keen observations and wit that give so much pleasure in the completed novels. If nothing else, the work gives a fascinating insight into the novelist’s craft by showing how much still remains to be done after the first outline has been drawn.

Mr Watson is a widowed clergyman with two sons and four daughters. The youngest of these is Emma, who has been brought up by a wealthy aunt and is better educated and more refined than her sisters. When her aunt contracts a foolish second marriage, Emma is forced to return to her father’s house, where she witnesses the crude designings of two of her sisters, both intent on finding husbands. Living nearby are the Osbornes, a great titled family, and Emma herself attracts some notice from the boorish young Lord Osborne, while an arrogant friend of his is determinedly pursued by one of Emma’s sisters. In the midst of this, she finds comfort in the kindness of her eldest and most responsible sister, Elizabeth.

Sanditon is the more fragmentary of the two pieces left unfinished by Austen. What we have amounts to perhaps a sixth of a complete novel, enough to provoke speculation as to how Austen’s genius might have developed while leaving the answer still tantalisingly uncertain. Unlike The Watsons, this is not a work set aside in favour of different projects. Jane Austen was seriously ill when she started on Sanditon, and indeed had less than six months to live. With six complete, almost flawless examples of her art to savour, we can hardly complain. Yet we must remember that she was only 42 when she died, scarcely even middle-aged by modern standards; who knows what further developments may have been germinating in her mind?

Sanditon, or what we have of it, certainly hints at the possibility of a new quality of atmosphere. In that respect the book appears fresh, innovative, and original. Jane Austen is writing here not about an old-established community but a new and rising world in the form of a modern seaside commercial town (based on Eastbourne). This is a society that is still in the process of being formed, described by her as ‘a young and rising bathing-place, certainly the favourite spot of all that are to be found along the coast of Sussex; the most favoured by nature, and promising to be the most chosen by man.’

Written by Hugh Griffith

Jane Austen: The Watsons (Unabridged)

The first winter assembly in the town…

'You do not know Penelope. There is nothing she would not do…'

'Your account of this Tom Musgrave, Elizabeth…'

'We must not all expect to be individually lucky,' replied Emma.

The girls, dressing in some measure together…

'I think, Miss Emma, I remember your aunt very well…'

The party passed on.

At the conclusion of the two dances, Emma found herself…

At the end of these dances, Emma found they were to drink tea…

'We had quite lost you,' said Mrs. Edwards, who followed her…

Emma and Mrs. Blake parted as old acquaintances…

The next morning brought a great many visitors.

Emma thanked him, but professed herself very unwilling…

'Now, my dear Emma,' said Miss Watson…

As their quietly sociable little meal concluded, Miss Watson…

With much concern they took their seats…

To say that Emma was not flattered by Lord Osborne's visit…

'I shall be sorry for the doorkeeper…'

Emma was the first of the females in the parlour again…

Dinner came, and except when Mrs. Robert looked at her…

He recollected himself, and came forward…

The ladies were not wanting in civil returns…

The clock struck nine while he was thus agreeably occupied…

To Emma, the change was most acceptable…

Jane Austen: Sanditon (Unabridged)

Chapter 1

'Excuse me, sir,' replied the other.

A twinge or two, in trying to move his foot…

'Our coast too full!' repeated Mr. Parker.

Chapter 2

Sanditon was a second wife and four children to him…

Chapter 3

Till within the last twelvemonth, Mr. Parker had considered…

Chapter 4

'My dear, we shall have shade enough on the hill…'

They were now approaching the church…

Chapter 5

He read: My dear Tom, we were all much grieved…

'Well,' said Mr. Parker, as he finished.

Chapter 6

She went on however towards Trafalgar House…

'My dear Madam, they can only raise the price…'

Chapter 7

How Clara received it was less obvious…

I have read several of Burns's poems with great delight,'…

Charlotte could think of nothing more harmless to be said…

'Aye my dear, that's very sensibly said,' cried Lady Denham…

Chapter 8

Though he owed many of his ideas to this sort of reading…

Chapter 9

'The West Indians,' she continued, 'whom I look upon…'

'Invalids indeed. I trust there are not three people in England…'

Chapter 10

Mr. and Mrs. Parker and Charlotte had seen two post chaises…

'l am much obliged to you,' replied Charlotte. 'But I prefer tea…'

'Keep you awake perhaps all night,' replied Charlotte…

Chapter 11

Mrs. Griffiths had preferred a small, retired place…

Chapter 12

lt was a close, misty morning and, when they reached the brow…

Austenprose.com

“Amusingly read by the acclaimed BBC Radio personality Anna Bentinck, the diversity of the plots and the numerous characters could have been a challenge to a lesser accomplished reader, but I admired her energetic interpretations of the female roles. She has a fine touch with Austen’s nuanced humor and I appreciated her pregnant pauses as much as her rapid fire delivery when warranted. A must have addition for any Austen enthusiast”

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