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Literary Manuscript Culture in Romantic Britain$
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Michelle Levy

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474457064

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474457064.001.0001

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Jane Austen’s Fiction in Manuscript

Jane Austen’s Fiction in Manuscript

(p.182) Chapter 5 Jane Austen’s Fiction in Manuscript
Literary Manuscript Culture in Romantic Britain

Michelle Levy

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 5 examines the novelist’s scribal practices through a study of her surviving manuscripts. It deconstructs the separation that has been assumed between her early fiction in manuscript and her later novels in print, demonstrating how elements of and impulses from the early writing survive into print. Austen presents a provocative case of a canonical and beloved novelist whose fiction manuscripts languished en route to print, as she laboured to conform to the demands of the print novel. The nature of Austen’s confrontation with print can be discerned by examining her later manuscripts – those written near the end of her life and at the height of her career in print. These manuscripts reveal the continued pleasure she took in her confidential manuscript writing and infer the challenges she faced in transitioning her fiction into print. A common thread running through this chapter and the previous two case-study chapters is the extensive accommodations made by authors to make their writing publishable. Nevertheless, by bringing into print culture some of the confidentiality more easily expressed by them in manuscript, these authors challenged the rigid conceptions of print propriety under which they wrote.

Keywords:   Jane Austen, Confidential Manuscripts, Manuscript Revisions for Print, The Novel, Constructions of Print

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