As a followup to my recent post about Jane Austen
tracking the six-month time frame of the transition
of her own real life exile from Steventon to Bath
from November, 1800 to May, 1801, in the six month
time frame of the transition of Marianne Dashwood's
fictional exile from Norland to Barton Cottage....
I have had an interesting off-shoot discussion with
one of the commenters at my blog (who goes by the
moniker "Lit-Lass") about the timing of the composition
of Sense & Sensibility, which I thought was worth its
own blog post.
Lit-Lass wrote: "According to my notes from Tomalin's
bio and Joan K. Ray's timeline [JA] wrote [Elinor &
Marianne] in 1795 and Cassandra remembered it read
to the family by '76. Of course she did a great deal of
revising later. ]
I then replied as follows: "...our discussion here has led
me to an intriguing new hypothesis, i.e., that perhaps
Cassandra was being less than honest when she reported
those dates of earliest writing of E&M---we have
independent third party verification of early drafts
of P&P and Northanger Abbey (Susan, but we only
have Cassandra's word for the early version of E&M.
And why would Cassandra want the world to think
that S&S was first written in the 1790's? Because then
nobody would think that the "Massacre of Steventon"
in 1800-1801 was being depicted!"
Am I correct in my recollection that Cassandra's
recollection, long after JA's death, is the only basis
for the pre-1800 composition of S&S in epistolary
form under title "Elinor & Marianne"?
When you think about it, if JA really did write Elinor
& Marianne in 1796, why didn't Revd. Austen submit
it, along with P&P, for publication in 1798? Why was
Elinor & Marianne kept on the shelf, never mentioned
in any of JA's many surviving letters from 1796-1800?
Why are there so many echoes of P&P and NA in JA's
1796-1799 letters, but no echoes of S&S that I can recall
in those same early surviving letters? There's something
fishy about it all, and realizing how closely the events of
1800-1801 are tracked in the first Volume of S&S makes
me wonder if CEA was being a politician when she
"recollected" Elinor & Marianne's early composition,
as a way of deflecting attention by James Austen's children
to the disturbing innuendo of the first volume of S&S vis
a vis James &Mary Austen.
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