Unfinished Austen

I recently finished reading some of Austen’s unfinished works: Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon. I am a huge Austen fan, have read most of her six novels at least twice, seen the various PBS versions, etc.

I have been studying her craft. She is a master of story and character and even though her books are written in a way we don’t speak anymore, her works are timeless.

If you’re a fan of Austen, they are a must read (I picked up a book by Penguin that had all three stories in one volume). Each of them are very short and not full-length novels. Lady Susan (an early writing) is delightful and hilarious. I wish she had written a full length book on this naughty character. The Watsons (also an earlier writing) has strains of some other stories and one wonders if she took pieces of this story and rewrote it in other books. Sanditon is the manuscript she was writing when she died. It almost seems that she drafted some of it in quick notes to rewrite later, which is so fascinating to me as a writer.

What interests me about these ‘unfinished’ works is they are just that: unfinished and unpublished in her lifetime. They are worth studying since they offer a peek into the not-so-perfected works of Austen. These stories are clearly weaker than her published works, but interesting, nonetheless to both fans of Austen and writers alike.


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Natasha
    May 06, 2010 @ 16:03:44

    Kathan — I replied to your comment on my blog about the creativity workshop. You might want to check in with Merrilee and jump in with DS and me. I think it looks pretty worthwhile and I have a tendency to be fairly critical on these things….


  2. Natasha
    May 06, 2010 @ 10:58:48

    I agree that Pride and Prejudice is the best to start with. And the video version with Colin Firth as Ms. Darcy is THE BEST.


  3. dayner
    May 05, 2010 @ 23:48:14

    I’ve wanted to read Lady Susan but I’ve never heard of the other two. Sanditon sounds fascinating. I would love to read her notes.


    • kathanink
      May 06, 2010 @ 07:30:09

      Lady Susan is so great, it’s actually considered a remarkable work. It’s in the form of “letters” written from Lady Susan (who is a modern day “cougar”) back and forth with some other people. It’s funny and I can hardly believe it was written in the 1800’s! It’s short (they all are), you should definitely read it.


  4. darksculptures
    May 05, 2010 @ 21:12:36

    I’m a horrible person. I’ve never read an Austen book. 😦


    • dayner
      May 05, 2010 @ 23:46:48

      🙂 Just kiddin’

      You are missing out. The best is P and P. Start there if you ever get around to it.


      • darksculptures
        May 06, 2010 @ 12:38:50

        With so many votes for P&P I think that will be the one I read. When the time comes. Right now I feel a little like Natasha. There are just too many things on my plate and too much (stuff) going on in my life right now to even think about adding another layer. Something is going to have to give soon. Hopefully it is not my santiy.


        • kathanink
          May 06, 2010 @ 14:38:10

          I know what you mean! We don’t mean to give you ONE more thing to do…do it when you have the time and you want to kick back and relax. It’s a hang out with a bottle of wine kinda movie. 🙂


        • dayner
          May 06, 2010 @ 20:22:04

          If it helps, the audio book of P&P is excellent too.


          • darksculptures
            May 06, 2010 @ 20:26:45

            I told my hubs that I wanted audio books from now on. I need to spend time on the treadmill (which I’m not doing again) and I’d love to kill two birds with one stone. Plus – I’m joining a fitness support group later this year to hold me accountable and those audio books will really come in handy then. Merrilee is getting the group together. She has back problems too!


    • kathanink
      May 06, 2010 @ 07:32:20

      I feel the same way about other books out there (I’ve never read them, and I feel terrible that I haven’t!). But really, Austen is so enjoyable. Have you ever seen a PBS movie? Start there, you’ll probably be inspired to read the book. The books are better than all the movies, as good as some of them are.


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