Jane Austen
Persuasione
Le due versioni dell'ultimo capitolo

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Un paio di anni fa sono usciti alcuni articoli che, citando degli studi sui manoscritti austeniani di Kathryn Sutherland (autrice fra l'altro di Jane Austen's Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood, un saggio molto interessante su questo argomento), asserivano, con titoli che sicuramente colpivano il lettore, una presunta trascuratezza nella scrittura di Jane Austen, affermando, più o meno esplicitamente, che molto dello stile di scrittura dei suoi romanzi fosse in realtà dovuto a William Gifford, l'editor di John Murray, il proprietario della casa editrice che si occupò della pubblicazione di Emma, dei due romanzi postumi: Northanger Abbey e Persuasion, nonché della seconda edizione di Mansfield Park, pubblicato in precedenza da Egerton, lo stesso editore di Sense and Sensibility e Pride and Prejudice.

A titolo di esempio riporto i link di due articoli in inglese e di uno in italiano:
- Jane Austen's style might not be hers, academic claims (22 October 2010)
- Pride, prejudice and poor punctuation (23 October 2010)
- Jane Austen? Si chiamava William Gifford (25 ottobre 2010)

L'ipotesi ha poco fondamento, per diverse ragioni. Gifford ebbe modo di intervenire solo sugli ultimi tre romanzi e sulla seconda edizione di Mansfield Park, e in quest'ultimo caso il confronto tra le due edizioni a stampa evidenzia diverse modifiche, nessuna delle quali, però, altera in modo sostanziale la precedente stesura. Non abbiamo inoltre alcun manoscritto riferibile ai sei romanzi canonici, che permetta di fare un confronto diretto tra stesura originale e testo pubblicato, con l'unica eccezione dell'ultimo capitolo di Persuasion.
I manoscritti di JA sono numerosi (l'elenco completo è nel sito: Jane Austen's Fiction Manuscripts, dove mancano solo quelli relativi alle lettere) ma, appunto, riguardano tutti, con l'unica eccezione riportata sopra, testi mai pubblicati nel corso della sua vita.

È quindi interessante porre l'attenzione sull'unico possibile termine di confronto tra manoscritto e testo pubblicato. L'analisi dei due testi riportati sotto, nei quali le differenze sono segnalate in rosso e grassetto permette di verificare come si tratti di interventi minimi, dove si possono trovare solo alcuni rari refusi ortografici, per i quali c'è da tenere tra l'altro conto della maggiore flessibilità prevista in un'epoca in cui l'esatta ortografia delle parole non era ancora stata pienamente codificata. Per quanto riguarda la punteggiatura, si nota, forse, un tentativo (rilevabile anche tra le due edizioni di Mansfield Park) di avvicinarla di più al versante "grammaticale" rispetto a quello più "retorico" del manoscritto, quest'ultimo usato in prevalenza da JA, in tutti i suoi scritti, probabilmente perché più vicino alla consolidata abitudine dell'epoca alla lettura a voce alta. Le numerose iniziali maiuscole del manoscritto, infine, sono anch'esse un'abitudine dell'epoca, una sorta di evidenziazione che probabilmente veniva utilizzata nelle bozze e poi eliminata in stampa.
C'è inoltre da tenere presente che il manoscritto in nostro possesso potrebbe non essere quello effettivamente consegnato all'editore, in quanto si trova unito al penultimo capitolo, poi interamente cancellato, riscritto e trasformato in quelli che sono il terzultimo e il penultimo capitolo dell'edizione pubblicata (vedi Persuasione: i due capitoli cancellati).

Nella trascrizione ho sciolto le abbreviazioni ("Capt. W." per "Capitano Wentworth", "E." per "Elliot", "cd" e wd" per "could" e would", e così via), lasciato la sottolineatura di alcune parole, che nella stampa veniva resa con il corsivo e che in questo caso fu evidentemente tralasciata, e uniformato all'edizione a stampa la suddivisione in paragrafi.

Persuasion


Volume II - Chapter 11 (23)
(Versione del manoscritto)



Who can be in doubt of what followed? - When any two young People take it into their heads to marry, they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point - be they ever so poor, or ever so imprudent, or ever so little likely to be necessary to each other's ultimate comfort. This may be bad morality to conclude with, but I beleive it to be Truth - and if such parties succeed, how should a Captain Wentworth and an Anne Elliot, with the advantage of maturity of Mind, consciousness of Right, and one Independant Fortune between them, fail of bearing down every opposition? They might in fact, have born down a great deal more than they met with, for there was little to distress them beyond the want of Graciousness and Warmth. Sir W. made no objection, and Elizabeth did nothing worse than look cold and unconcerned. - Captain Wentworth - with £25,000 - and as high in his Profession as Merit and Activity could place him, was no longer nobody. He was now esteemed quite worthy to address the Daughter of a foolish spendthrift Baronet, who had not had Principle or sense enough to maintain himself in the Situation in which Providence had placed him, and who could give his Daughter but a small part of the Share of ten Thousand pounds which must be her's hereafter.

Sir Walter indeed though he had no affection for his Daughter and no vanity flattered to make him really happy on the occasion, was very far from thinking it a bad match for her. - On the contrary when he saw more of Captain Wentworth - and eyed him well, he was very much struck by his personal claims and felt that his Superiority of appearance might be not unfairly balanced against her superiority of Rank; - And all this, together with his well-sounding name; enabled Sir Walter at last to prepare his pen with a very good grace for the insertion of the Marriage in the volume of Honour.

The only person among them whose opposition of feelings could excite any serious anxiety, was Lady Russell. - Anne knew that Lady Russell must be suffering some pain in understanding and relinquishing Mr. Elliot - and be making some struggles to become truly acquainted with and do justice to Captain Wentworth - This however, was what Lady Russell had now to do. She must learn to feel that she had been mistaken with regard to both - that she had been unfairly influenced by appearances in each - that, because Captain Wentworth's manners had not suited her own ideas, she had been too quick in suspecting them to indicate a Character of dangerous Impetuosity, and that because Mr. Elliot's manners had precisely pleased her in their propriety and correctness, their general politeness and suavity, she had been too quick in receiving them as the certain result of the most correct opinions and well regulated Mind. - There was nothing less for Lady Russell to do than to admit that she had been pretty completely wrong, and to take up a new set of opinions and hopes.

There is a quickness of perception in some, a nicety in the discernment of character - a natural Penetration in short which no Experience in others can equal - and Lady Russell had been less gifted in this part of Understanding than her young friend; - but she was a very good Woman; and if her second object was to be sensible and well-judging, her first was to see Anne happy. She loved Anne better than she loved her own abilities - and when the awkwardness of the Beginning was over, found little hardship in attaching herself as a Mother to the Man who was securing the happiness of her Child.

Of all the family, Mary was probably the one most immediately gratified by the circumstance. - It was creditable to have a Sister married, and she might flatter herself that she had been greatly instrumental to the connection, by having Anne staying with her in the Autumn; and as her own Sister must be better than her Husbands Sisters, it was very agreeable that Captain Wentworth should be a richer Man than either Captain Benwick or Charles Hayter. - She had something to suffer perhaps when they came into contact again, in seeing Anne restored to the rights of Seniority and the Mistress of a very pretty Landaulet - but she had a future to look forward to, of powerful consolation - Anne had no Uppercross Hall before her, no Landed Estate, no Headship of a family, and if they could but keep Captain Wentworth from being made a Baronet, she would not change situations with Anne.

It would be well for the Eldest Sister if she were equally satisfied with her situation, for a change is not very probable there. - She had soon the mortification of seeing Mr. Elliot withdraw, and no one of proper condition has since presented himself to raise even the unfounded hopes which sunk with him.

The news of his Cousin Anne's engagement burst on Mr. Elliot most unexpectedly. It deranged his best plan of domestic Happiness, his best hopes of keeping Sir Walter single by the watchfulness which a Son in law's rights would have given - But though discomfited and disappointed, he could still do something for his own Interest and his own enjoyment. He soon quitted Bath; and on Mrs. Clay's quitting likewise it soon afterwards and being next heard of, as established under his Protection in London, it was evident how double a Game he had been playing, and how determined he was to save himself from being cut out by one artful woman at least.

Mrs. Clay's affections had overpowered her Interest, and she had sacrificed for the young Man's sake, the possibility of scheming longer for Sir Walter; - she has Abilities however as well as Affections, and it is now a doubtful point whether his cunning or hers may finally carry the day, whether, after preventing her from being the wife of Sir Walter, he may not be wheedled and caressed at last into making her the wife of Sir William. -

It cannot be doubted that Sir Walter and Elizabeth were shocked and mortified by the loss of their companion and the discovery of their deception in her. They had their great Cousins to be sure, to resort to for comfort - but they must long feel that to flatter and follow others, without being flattered and followed themselves is but a state of half enjoyment.

Anne, satisfied at a very early period, of Lady Russell's meaning to love Captain Wentworth as she ought, had no other alloy to the happiness of her prospects, than what arose from the consciousness of having no relations to bestow on him which a Man of Sense could value. - There, she felt her own Inferiority keenly. - The disproportion in their fortune was nothing; - it did not give her a moment's regret; - but to have no Family to receive and estimate him properly, nothing of respectability, of Harmony, of Goodwill - to offer in return for all the Worth and all the prompt welcome which met her in his Brothers and Sisters, was a source of as lively pain, as her Mind could well be sensible of, under circumstances of otherwise strong felicity. - She had but two friends in the World, to add to his List, Lady Russell and Mrs. Smith. - To these however, he was very well-disposed to attach himself. Lady Russell - inspite of all her former transgressions, he could now value from his heart; - while he was not obliged to say that he beleived her to have been right in originally dividing them, he was ready to say almost anything else in her favour; - and as for Mrs. Smith, she had claims of various kinds to recommend her quickly and - permanently.

Her recent good offices by Anne had been enough in themselves - and their marriage, instead of depriving her of one freind secured her two. She was one of their first visitors in their settled Life - and Captain Wentworth, by putting her in the way of recovering her Husband's property in the West Indies,, by writing for her, and acting for her, and seeing her through all the petty Difficulties of the case, with the activity and exertion of a fearless Man, and a determined friend, fully requited the services she had rendered, or had ever meant to render, to his Wife

Mrs. Smith's enjoyments were not spoiled by this improvement of Income, with some improvement of health, and the acquisition of such friends to be often with, for her Chearfulness and mental Activity did not fail her, and while those prime supplies of Good remained, she might have bid defiance even to greater accessions of worldly Prosperity. She might have been absolutely rich and perfectly healthy, and yet be happy. - Her spring of Felicity was in the glow of her spirits - as her friend Anne's was in the warmth of her Heart. - Anne was Tenderness itself; - and she had the full worth of it in Captain Wentworth's affection. His Profession was all that could ever make her friends wish that Tenderness less; the dread of a future War, all that could dim her Sunshine. - She gloried in being a Sailor's wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm, for belonging to that Profession which is - if possible - more distinguished in it's Domestic Virtues, than in it's National Importance. -

Finis

July 18. - 1816.

Persuasion


Volume II - Chapter 12 (24)
(Versione pubblicata)



Who can be in doubt of what followed? When any two young people take it into their heads to marry, they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point, be they ever so poor, or ever so imprudent, or ever so little likely to be necessary to each other's ultimate comfort. This may be bad morality to conclude with, but I believe it to be truth; and if such parties succeed, how should a Captain Wentworth and an Anne Elliot, with the advantage of maturity of mind, consciousness of right, and one independent fortune between them, fail of bearing down every opposition? They might in fact have borne down a great deal more than they met with, for there was little to distress them beyond the want of graciousness and warmth. - Sir Walter made no objection, and Elizabeth did nothing worse than look cold and unconcerned. Captain Wentworth, with five-and-twenty thousand pounds, and as high in his profession as merit and activity could place him, was no longer nobody. He was now esteemed quite worthy to address the daughter of a foolish, spendthrift baronet, who had not had principle or sense enough to maintain himself in the situation in which Providence had placed him, and who could give his daughter at present but a small part of the share of ten thousand pounds which must be hers hereafter.

Sir Walter indeed, though he had no affection for Anne, and no vanity flattered, to make him really happy on the occasion, was very far from thinking it a bad match for her. On the contrary, when he saw more of Captain Wentworth, saw him repeatedly by daylight and eyed him well, he was very much struck by his personal claims, and felt that his superiority of appearance might be not unfairly balanced against her superiority of rank; and all this, assisted by his well-sounding name, enabled Sir Walter at last to prepare his pen with a very good grace for the insertion of the marriage in the volume of honour.

The only one among them, whose opposition of feeling could excite any serious anxiety, was Lady Russell. Anne knew that Lady Russell must be suffering some pain in understanding and relinquishing Mr. Elliot, and be making some struggles to become truly acquainted with, and do justice to Captain Wentworth. This however was what Lady Russell had now to do. She must learn to feel that she had been mistaken with regard to both; that she had been unfairly influenced by appearances in each; that because Captain Wentworth's manners had not suited her own ideas, she had been too quick in suspecting them to indicate a character of dangerous impetuosity; and that because Mr. Elliot's manners had precisely pleased her in their propriety and correctness, their general politeness and suavity, she had been too quick in receiving them as the certain result of the most correct opinions and well regulated mind. There was nothing less for Lady Russell to do, than to admit that she had been pretty completely wrong, and to take up a new set of opinions and of hopes.

There is a quickness of perception in some, a nicety in the discernment of character, a natural penetration, in short, which no experience in others can equal, and Lady Russell had been less gifted in this part of understanding than her young friend. But she was a very good woman, and if her second object was to be sensible and well-judging, her first was to see Anne happy. She loved Anne better than she loved her own abilities; and when the awkwardness of the beginning was over, found little hardship in attaching herself as a mother to the man who was securing the happiness of her other child.

Of all the family, Mary was probably the one most immediately gratified by the circumstance. It was creditable to have a sister married, and she might flatter herself with having been greatly instrumental to the connexion, by keeping Anne with her in the autumn; and as her own sister must be better than her husband's sisters, it was very agreeable that Captain Wentworth should be a richer man than either Captain Benwick or Charles Hayter. - She had something to suffer perhaps when they came into contact again, in seeing Anne restored to the rights of seniority, and the mistress of a very pretty landaulette; but she had a future to look forward to, of powerful consolation. Anne had no Uppercross-hall before her, no landed estate, no headship of a family; and if they could but keep Captain Wentworth from being made a baronet, she would not change situations with Anne.

It would be well for the eldest sister if she were equally satisfied with her situation, for a change is not very probable there. She had soon the mortification of seeing Mr. Elliot withdraw; and no one of proper condition has since presented himself to raise even the unfounded hopes which sunk with him.

The news of his cousin Anne's engagement burst on Mr. Elliot most unexpectedly. It deranged his best plan of domestic happiness, his best hope of keeping Sir Walter single by the watchfulness which a son-in-law's rights would have given. But, though discomfited and disappointed, he could still do something for his own interest and his own enjoyment. He soon quitted Bath; and on Mrs. Clay's quitting it likewise soon afterwards, and being next heard of as established under his protection in London, it was evident how double a game he had been playing, and how determined he was to save himself from being cut out by one artful woman, at least.

Mrs. Clay's affections had overpowered her interest, and she had sacrificed, for the young man's sake, the possibility of scheming longer for Sir Walter. She has abilities, however, as well as affections; and it is now a doubtful point whether his cunning, or hers, may finally carry the day; whether, after preventing her from being the wife of Sir Walter, he may not be wheedled and caressed at last into making her the wife of Sir William.

It cannot be doubted that Sir Walter and Elizabeth were shocked and mortified by the loss of their companion, and the discovery of their deception in her. They had their great cousins, to be sure, to resort to for comfort; but they must long feel that to flatter and follow others, without being flattered and followed in turn, is but a state of half enjoyment.

Anne, satisfied at a very early period of Lady Russell's meaning to love Captain Wentworth as she ought, had no other alloy to the happiness of her prospects than what arose from the consciousness of having no relations to bestow on him which a man of sense could value. There she felt her own inferiority keenly. The disproportion in their fortune was nothing; it did not give her a moment's regret; but to have no family to receive and estimate him properly; nothing of respectability, of harmony, of good-will to offer in return for all the worth and all the prompt welcome which met her in his brothers and sisters, was a source of as lively pain as her mind could well be sensible of, under circumstances of otherwise strong felicity. She had but two friends in the world to add to his list, Lady Russell and Mrs. Smith. To those, however, he was very well disposed to attach himself. Lady Russell, in spite, of all her former transgressions, he could now value from his heart. While he was not obliged to say that he believed her to have been right in originally dividing them, he was ready to say almost every thing else in her favour; and as for Mrs. Smith, she had claims of various kinds to recommend her quickly and permanently.

Her recent good offices by Anne had been enough in themselves; and their marriage, instead of depriving her of one friend, secured her two. She was their earliest visitor in their settled life; and Captain Wentworth, by putting her in the way of recovering her husband's property in the West Indies; by writing for her, acting for her, and seeing her through all the petty difficulties of the case, with the activity and exertion of a fearless man and a determined friend, fully requited the services which she had rendered, or ever meant to render, to his wife.

Mrs. Smith's enjoyments were not spoiled by this improvement of income, with some improvement of health, and the acquisition of such friends to be often with, for her cheerfulness and mental alacrity did not fail her; and while these prime supplies of good remained, she might have bid defiance even to greater accessions of worldly prosperity. She might have been absolutely rich and perfectly healthy, and yet be happy. Her spring of felicity was in the glow of her spirits, as her friend Anne's was in the warmth of her heart. Anne was tenderness itself, and she had the full worth of it in Captain Wentworth's affection. His profession was all that could ever make her friends wish that tenderness less; the dread of a future war all that could dim her sunshine. She gloried in being a sailor's wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm for belonging to that profession which is, if possible, more distinguished in its domestic virtues than in its national importance.


THE END

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