chapter  2
24 Pages

Conjugal Excursions, at Home and Abroad, in Jane Austen’s “Juvenilia” and Sanditon (1817)

WithJohn C. Leffel

Many of Charles Austen's earliest writings, known since Chapman's edition as the "Juvenilia," abound with energetic movement and flow, both within and without the handful of counties, not to mention the "English" borders, that Moretti demarcates. Austen clearly holds the cards: an overstocked conjugal "market" so drives up his asking price that he can demand—and patiently hold out for — "Perfection." Through its reference to the colonial marriage plot as well as its forceful vindication of Cecilia Wynne's moral character, Catharine gestures (however critically) towards a turn-of-the-century conjugal market that, by necessity, is becoming increasingly global in its scope. Austen's unfinished final novel, Sanditon, expands upon this point by introducing a wealthy, "half-Mulatto" West Indian character whose very presence incites a flurry of speculation and maneuvering amongst the promoters of a fashionable new bathing resort.