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A Calendar for Persuasion

The calendar supporting Persuasion reveals that the novel is in a heavily unfinished state; that the book was supposed to have the same kind of underlying hidden ironic story that we were to find out only at the close of a third volume. Since Anne did not have an opportunity to tell Lady Russell the truth about Mr Elliot, we were to have a Tuesday of intense mortification and reversal for both Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth (either at a card party organized by Lady Russell, or a gathering at a performance of a play bought by Charles for a Tuesday evening in Bath). We were to learn that Mrs Clay and Mr Elliot had a longer-standing relationship than Mrs Smith knows; as it stands, Anne Elliot says more than once that Mr Elliot's conduct does not make sense: we were to learn more about why he happened upon the party at Lyme, and why he looked so at her; we were to what was the package he was delivering for Mrs Clay in Bath and why she wanted to walk with him to the point of nearly making a point of it; where he went; what they were conferring over near the White Hart when spied by Mary Musgrove.

As to the movement in time, it is inconsistent somewhat in the manner of Mansfield Park. Until Anne arrives in Bath time is often indeterminate; once she arrives, one finds a time-line which is ass exquisitely traced as the time-lines of S&S, P&P, NA, and much of MP (MP moves differently because of the use of epistolary narrative in the first two-thirds of the third volume). My calendar also reveals that events were already planned to occur after our novel now stops. What we have is a novel which was suddenly brought to a close, curtain pulled down in the middle of a play whose further acts were in readiness on the stage of our authors' mind, but not yet dramatized.

First there is the long sequence which precedes the novel's opening, but which Austen worked out in accordance with real events in the Napoleonic wars at sea. We can see here how Austen had fully imagined the interconnections of the time of Anne's romance with Wentworth and the 8 years following.

Sat, 1 Mar:
Sir Walter Elliot born 1:35

Thurs, 15 July:
Marriage of Sir Walter Elliot and Elizabeth Stevenson, daughter of James 1:35

Wed, 1 June:
Birth of Elizabeth Elliot 1:35

Thurs, 9 Aug:
Birth of Anne Elliot 1:35

Thurs, 5 Nov:
A Stillborn Son 1:35

Sun, 20 Nov:
Birth of Mary 1:35

In 1800, death of Elizabeth, Lady Elliot; married 17 years, therefore died very late in the year, when Elizabeth was 16 and Anne 14 1:35-6; 6:73. During 1801-3, Anne goes to school in Bath; she meets Miss Hamilton who is 3 years older, staying on an extra year from wants of settled home or near relations 2:44; 17:165. In 1802, Sir Walter seeks the acquaintance of William Walter Elliot, 22; during a spring excursion to London Elizabeth had hoped, he is invited to Kellynch 1:38.

Spring, in Bath:
Elliots met again; again William invited, again does not show; somewhat later heard to have married 1:39

Anne and Mrs Smith, 12 years ago, had bid adieu and not seen one another until January 1815 17:165

letter from Mr Elliot to Mr Smith, 21:206-7, Mr Elliot is 23 at this time; in February 1815 said to be Mr Elliot a dozen years ago 21:210

In 1804, Mrs Smith 19, perhaps just about 20 and before she married Mr Smith, meets Mr Elliot who also is not yet married; Anne surmizes it was around this time her father and sister had still hoped for Mr Elliot for Elizabeth. Mrs Smith often spoke of her friend Anne; thus is Mr Elliot's allusion to his knowledge of Anne apparently explained; she knew the first Mrs Elliot until 2 years before she died (May 1814 so known to one another from 1804-1812) 20:196; 21:207.

In 1805, Wentworth made curate at Monkford: held it for 2-3 years 3:52.

21 October:
Trafalgar Action: Admiral Crofts involved

Action off San Domingo in which British rout a French attempt to take this island (Marcus, Age of Napoleon, pp 295-6) includes Frederick Wentworth 4:55
June (Summer):
Captain Wentworth comes into Somerset; stays for half a year with his brother in Monkford; Anne is 19; it takes a few months; during this time Mary at school and Mrs Crofts at a foreign station with her husband 4:55
this is 8 and 1/2 years before Feb 1815 so this is the month the break occurred 22:230; 23:240
He needed to be at sea, captained Asp to the West Indies 8:88

Sometime in the winter of 1806-7, Anne goes to Bath after rejecting Wentworth and is wretched for far more than a few months 1:44. In the Autumn of 1807, Captain meets up with and captures French frigate, brings her into Plymouth, Devonshire, 6 hours later a storm which lasts for 4 days and night; 24 hours after it started they had fled to French frigate and were thus saved 8:90.

It is in 1808 that Wentworth is posted to Laconia and has a few thousand pounds; had he written and come her answer would have been yes; this year, summertime, that Wentworth took Laconia for a cruise off Western Islands 8:91; 23:248 Musgroves wonder whether it was Wentworth they saw at Clifton 7 or 8 years ago 6:77

1809 then is the next summer when Wentworth making money from Laconia in Mediterranean and wishes he had Harville with him 8:90-1 Charles Musgrove asks Anne (aged 22) to marry him; Lady Russell would advise marriage, but Anne leaves nothing for her to do; Henrietta and Louisa away at school 4:57; 10:111

1809-1813: Sometime during this period Wentworth brought Mrs Harville, her sister (Phoebe) and a cousin from Portsmouth to Plymouth 8:93

Sun, 16 Dec:
Marriage of Charles Musgrove and Mary Elliot 1:35

3 years previous to Mrs Smith's statement that she has not seen Mr Elliot these 3 years 21:205
Wentworth at Gilbraltor in Laconia, picks up Dick Musgrove; this a year or two before Fanny Harville dies, was it when Captain Benwick made lieutenant of Laconia? 6:77; 8:91; 10:118-119
October or thereabouts:
Musgroves hear of death of their son, Richard before age 20, he had been on the Laconia 6 months 6:77, 8:91

Death of Mr Smith, two years before Anne and Mrs Smith meet again 17:165
when in town Sir Walter asked Elizabeth if they could retrench in anything; Dr Shirley went to Lyme for his health; 1:41; 12:123
Death of Fanny Harville in "preceding summer," 10:118; 14:145

had Wentworth arrived a week later at Lisbon, he would have been asked to give Lady Mary Grierson and her daughters passage 8:94
Napoleon abdicates, exiled to Elba
Mrs Elliot dies; we are told Mr Elliot had not been a widower for 7 months in January 16:160

What follows is a calendar not for the first half of the book, but for the first seventeen chapters of the novel. Note all the indetermine intervals of time. Not until the 6th chapter of Volume Two does time become determinate; it is at the opening sentence of this chapter ("It was the beginning of February and Anne having been a month in Bath"), that we find ourselves suddenly moving in the delicately worked out sequences of time that are characteristic of S&S from the sixth chapter of its first volume on where we can find a sentence which echoes the opening of the sixth chapter of Volume II of Persuasion: "It was very early in September" (VI:24). This intensely imagined way of coping with calendar time and siding into it the inner world of imaginative time of the heroines of each book begins at the opening of P&P, in NA once Catherine reaches Bath, in MP once the Crawfords arrive and we arrive in Sotherton on a Wednesday morning in August (August the 3rd if the year is 1808 as I think it is). The indetermine kind of time that we have in this first 2/3's of Persuasion is characteristic of Emma throughout with the difference that Emma will consistently zero in on certain days to erect a playful calendar that is consistent with church and folk festivals of the year.

What is different about Persuasion is the inconsistency.

June into July:
opening of book;
Sir Walter 54 1:36, 13 years had passed away since Lady Elliot's death 1:36; Elizabeth is 29 1:38
A very few days after Lady Russell's plan rejected
the removal to Bath chosen 2:44
One morning:
peace, says Mr Shepherd, will now bring naval men home who will have money and want to rent houses; at this point we are told Anne and Wentworth's months together 7 years ago, and Anne now 27 3:47; 4:57
On the morning Admiral and Mrs Crofts come to view Kellynch Hall Anne walks to Lady Russell's 5:60

Is this when no time is to be lost?

First week
when Benwick comes home from Cape, moves into Grappler and onto Portsmouth; there he learns of Fanny Harville's death; just when Benwick comes home from Cape Laconia home at Plymouth, Wentworth writes his own leave of absence, travels night and day to Portsmouth and then rows himself to Grappler 12:128
The preceding month
when Elliots to vacate Kellynch, taking Mrs Clay with them; Anne goes to Uppercross for the several weeks when (we are told) Lady Russell has engagements of her own which take her from Kellynch Cottage for several weeks; Anne will divide her time between Uppercross Cottage and Kellynch Lodge until Christmas when she will come to Bath with Lady Russell 5:60-1
Very early September:
Sir Walter, Elizabeth, and Mrs Clay to Bath; Anne to Kellynch Lodge for one week, Lady Russell determined to be out of the country when the Crofts arrive to take over 5:63; 21:213
Thurs, 8 Sept:
working back to Thursday before the three weeks Anne said to be in Uppercross as of Michaelmas we come to 8 Sept; this is day Anne did not come despite Mary's message 5:64
Close after Fri, 9 Sept:
Day before (yesterday) a dinner at the Pooles 5:64

Next day, morning in early September when Anne comes to Mary: Charles out shooting 5:64; the Thursday spoken of when Mary sent letter and Anne did not come could be 9/1 or 9/8; they visit great house 5:64

Anne will spend at least 2 months in Uppercross 6:70

Thurs, 29 Sept
Michaelmas when Crofts to take possession; Anne at Uppercross three weeks on this day 5:60, 6:74
First week of October say the 3rd
On an early day Mary and Charles visit Crofts and Crofts return the visit after visiting Musgroves; that evening Musgroves come to cottage, Mrs Musgrove upset by memories of Dick the mention of Mrs Crofts's brother the Captain who is paid off and coming to see his sister directly, Musgroves promise themselves to meet Captain as soon as he arrives 6:74-5
End of week, say the 8th:
A very few days more and Captain Wentworth at Kellynch, Mr Musgrove calls and invites him;
Before end of next week, say the 12th:
But it seems that before the end of this week he comes to pay civilities; on the day this happened Anne & Mary had been setting out for great house but elder boy, Charles falls; Musgroves come and after parents go for 5 minutes more girls stay and tell of Captain's visit; Mr Musgrove comes again in evening, and again dinner tomorrow come sup; at first Charles the husband says he might just look over in evening tomorrow; child has a good night 7:80-1
Thurs, 13th Oct:
The morrow the Captain promised to come and dine; Charles says after he comes in from shooting he will go over and dine at Great House; Anne invites Mary to accompany him; Mary says she has not dined at the Great House since Tuesday 7:80-1, 83
Fri, 14th Oct:
Captain comes next morning to shoot; cannot help but go in, and they meet; said to be almost 8 years ago 7:84
End of next week, say the 15th:
At end of another week he is engaged to dine at Uppercross with the Crofts 7:79
Sun, 16th Oct:
the first Sunday Charles Hayter absent 9:101

From this time they are repeatedly together; boy soon mended sufficiently; a time at dinner not grounded in specified date 8:86

Wentworth had originally intended to proceed to Shropshire, but stays, and soon he is visiting Uppercross every day, particularly in the morning 9:97

Sun, 23rd Oct:
the second Sunday Charles Hayter absent 9:101

Into week of 24th:

Wentworth 4 or 5 times in Miss Musgroves' company, and Charles and Mary Musgrove wonder which he will choose, and Charles, Mary and Anne sitting discussing which one his favorite morning after dinner Charles & Mary attended 9:99

One morning soon after dinner Wentworth & Hayter clash over child preying on Anne 9:103

More occasions for heart-misery and Hayter quits the field; does not come for 3 days, refuses a regular invitation to dinner; even seen one night buried in books 10:105

One fine November day the walk to Hayters 10:106

Upon receiving a letter from Captain Harville now in Lyme Captain Wentworth had been gone for 2 days reappears with news of Captain Harville and his wife; 20 miles away, had been, stayed for 24 hours and come back again; Harville has taken house for half a year (until May 1815) 11:116, 119

Let's say Tuesday, Nov. 22nd:
They leave Great House in morning after early breakfast; come to Lyme as sun is setting; they come order dinner at inn and go to Harvilles who are disappointed they cannot give the dinner themselves; Harville and Benwick visit inn in the darker evening 11:116, 119
Wed: the 23rd:
Next morning: Anne & Henrietta's pre-breakfast walk, meet Louisa and Captain; they then encounter unknown gentleman later turns out to be staying at their inn and their cousin again Anne encounters him at inn before he departs; after breakfast joined by Harvilles & Benwick until 1 when they are to set off; it not far from 1 and they leave Harvilles at their door; decide a quarter of an hour later won't matter and return to one last walk on Cobb, the fall, brought to Harvilles; surgeon comes; he, Anne, Henrietta return to Uppercross and he flies back that night, that night Charles and Mary had returned to the inn and remain there for a fortnight 12:123-6, 129; 13:137
Thurs-Fri, Nov. 24th-25th:
It would be around this time or shortly afterwards that Mr Eliot says he reached Bath; in January he says he spent but 24 hours in Bath and went onto London where he of course heard how Sir Walter had settled in Bath 15:152

Anne spends two more days at Uppercross, at Mansion-House: first of these includes an account of Lyme early in the morning, the return of Charles later in the day, he left her walking with Captain Benwick that morning, he returns to Lyme, from Crewkherne a chaise comes to take nursery-maid to Lyme to tend Louisa; second day Charles Hayter travels to and fro from Lyme to offer news 13:137

Sat, the 26th:
Third day Anne suggests the Musgroves go to Lyme, and assists them going there, leaving her solitary once again, excepting little boys at cottage 13:138
Sun, the 27th:
Day Fixed for Lady Russell's return turns out to be a dark day in November 11:115; 13:139
Mon, the 28th-30th:
Three or four days pass and a couple of notes make their way to Anne, for source of one we are told that on the 3rd day around noon Wentworth had visited his sister with a note and then returned to Lyme. Now the note was for Anne 13:140
Thurs-Fri, Dec 1st-2nd:
4th day of Anne's stay with Lady Russell before setting forth for Bath 13:140
Sat, 3rd:
5th day of Anne's stay with Lady Russell on which they visit the Crofts at Kellynch Hall 13:140
?Sun-Wed, Dec 4th-7th:
Crofts return the call; they are going away to visit relatives in north of Somersetshire (Minehead), and will not be back until after Lady Russell has gone to Bath 13:140; 18:181
Thurs, Dec 8th:
Charles and Mary return earlier than the others, but stay far longer than they had to, and visit Lodge almost immediately; they were there a "fortnight;" it was a Tuesday night that Captain Benwick declined to come for invitation: the 6th? and this Thurs the 8th?

Captain Wentworth had kept away from Louisa, and was thinking of going down to Plymouth for a week; afterwards he headed for his brother Edward in Shropshire 14:144; 20: mother and father spoken of as having to return for Christmas holidays to be there for younger children 14:144

One week later
Lady Russell gives up hope of seeing Captain Benwick, say the 15th
A little before Christmas:
according to Mrs Smith's sources Mr Elliot became friendly with Elliots when he came to Bath in January because he is told about Mrs Clay's presence in Sir Walter's household since September 21:213. The problem here is there is a gap in time: why did it take 3 weeks for him to get from Lyme to Crewkherne up to Bath; it couldn't have and him still go to London, stay there a bit and return.

Musgroves return to be there for children, and we hear of roaring Christmas fire; Anne and Lady Russell there during Christmas holidays: phase of story being brought to an end: Louisa will return before her brothers and sisters leave for school, Harvilles will come, Captain Wentworth to go to see his brother into Shropshire 14:148-9

very early, say just after Jan 2nd:
The time when Lady Russell could convey Anne to Bath herself; Anne had heard from a letter that Mr Elliot had visited them 3 times, pointedly attentive 5:61; 14:149
Wed, Jan 4th:
Wentworth in Shropshire, he says he was six weeks with his brother 23:245

By the time the Crofts came back from Minehead, Wentworth had already gone down to Edward's 18:181

The rest of January, 1815:

When Anne and Lady Russell arrive, Mr Elliot has been a fortnight in Bath; he has called repeatedly, dined once 15:152

One night Anne arrives, he comes from Lansdown Crescent at precisely ten o'clock and leaves at 11 15:156-7

Next morning Anne comes down and overhears Mrs Clay's offer to leave; her father compliments her on her looks and says Gowland has improved Mrs Clay 16:158

Anne's first visit to Mrs Smith, not 31 yet 17:165-6

Second visit to Mrs Smith 17:166

By the middle of third week in January, say 19th-20th:

Mary's letter from Uppercross which told Anne Henrietta at home, but Louisa still at Lyme; Mary has had no-one visit her since second week in January 18:174-5

After several calls, her next conflicts with Lady Dalrymple's invitation and scene ensues 17:169

Anne goes to Mrs Smith while her father and sister and Lady Russell and Mr Elliot go to Dalyrymples 17:170

Next day signifies Anne talks with Lady Russell about party, and Lady Russell tries morally to pressure her into wanting to be her mother's replacement; we are told Anne has now known Mr Elliot one month 17:172

Sun, Jan 29th:
everyone but little Harvilles have left Mansion-House 18:174
Mon, Jan 30th:
Mary writes first longer part of her letter 18:174-5
Tues, Jan 31st:
Louisa and Harvilles come from Lyme; Mary comes over in the evening to learn of Louisa's coming engagement to Benwick; Mrs Crofts writes note to Mary offering to stop by and pick up any letters for Anne; perhaps Mr Musgrove immediately wrote his consent 18:175

This next month is the most fascinating part of the calendar which now lies underneath Persuasion. It reveals the same consistent use of Tuesday as a pivotal day for a mortifying or otherwise highly emotionally taut event which changes the action that will come after it. Up until the two days after Captain Wentworth and Anne's encounter at the musical party in which two days Anne fails to tell Lady Russell the truth about Mr Elliot but in which Captain Wentworth makes that truth irrelevant since partly at her prompting in her conversation with Harville he opens his heart to her in his letter. Note also that there was planned not only a party which Elizabeth was to have given, but also a Tuesday night at the theatre directly afterwards. Note finally the mysterious comings and goings of Mr Elliot are not fully accounted for and are as the calendar now has it left inconsistent. Immediately upon the announcement of the engagement time turns wholly indeterminate--instead of, as in S&S, P&P, NA, slowly becoming indeterminate. It is true that in MP the last chapter suddenly pulls down the curtain in the same quick way and time becomes indeterminate. Emma of course keeps up its beautiful plotting within a time frame which is far more flexible.

Wed Feb 1st:
Mary's letter arrives from Uppercross; it should have been dated Mon Jan 30th and the postscript Wed Feb 1st dated the 1st and brought by Crofts; tells of carriage sent to bring back Louisa and the Harvilles; Mary and Charles invited to dine on the day after Louisa comes back, which would be this Wed; Benwick expected this day too 18:174-5
After Mon-Wed, Jan 30th-Feb 1st:
Charles Hayter to hold a living for someone too young; on strength of this and his expectations he & Henrietta are to marry 22:222
Later that week or beginning of next:
Elliots visit Crofts and Crofts return the visit 18:178

Anne often encounters Crofts: Lady Russell takes Anne out in carriage every morning, and they know and talk with many navy people 18:179

Fri, Feb 10th:
Admiral and Mrs Crofts had a letter from Wentworth telling of engagement; he had just had one from Harville 18:179
Sat, Feb 11th:
Anne and the Admiral's stroll down Milsom; he tells of Wentworth's erratic movements and says he & Mrs Crofts have not seen Wentworth since Nov; he speaks up for Wentworth and says Sophy should write and invite Wentworth; had they not better get him to Bath; sense of a long-standing relationship to come in his comments he will fill her in on Admiral Brand and his brother 18:179
Wed, Feb 15th:
Wentworth arrives 19:186; 23:245
Thurs, Feb 16th:
Day after Wentworth comes and the next time Anne walks out she sees Wentworth: it had been raining, Mr Elliot, Anne, Elizabeth and Mrs Clay had turned into Molland's on Milsom St; Mr Elliot sets off for Union Street on a errand for Mrs Clay; Wentworth arrived "yesterday" 19:184
Fri, Feb 16th:
Following morning Anne driving with Lady Russell sees Wentworth from afar on Pulteney St 19:188
Sat-Sun, Feb 17-18th:
Two days pass without a meeting; on the 17th Captain Harville began to talk of wanting to go to Bath on business, Charles wants to go, Mrs Harville sees advantage for her husband, plans held up for 2 days while Mary spoils everything unless she is taken 19:189; 22:222
Sun, Feb 19th:
Mrs Rooke came away from Marlborough Buildings where she was attending on Mrs Wallis 21:204
Mon, Feb 20th:
The evening Nurse Rooke learns a good deal about Mr Elliot from Mrs Wallis; 2 days of Mary holdings things up when Mrs Musgrove decides she and Henrietta need to buy wedding clothes and it will be her party; on Monday Captain Benwick and Charles Musgrove rat-hunted 21:204, 22:211, 222-3;
Tues, Feb 21th:
Anne's quick visit to Mrs Smith when Nurse Rooke opens the door for her; to say she cannot make it, and then scene of evening concert where she encounters Wentworth and he is treated coldly; where she tries to reach him, is thwarted; the cross-currents of Mr Elliot; would she have believed this a week ago? 19:189; 21:204
Wed, Feb 22nd:
Anne's "important conference" all morning long with Mrs Smith; she has not seen Mr Elliot these 3 years; an interesting factor is how unlike Wickham who worries about what Darcy tells Elizabeth, Mr Elliot does not appear to. Why not? Penelope & Elizabeth's conversation; in the evening Mr Elliot to return; after night of agony Captain Wentworth's spirits rally 21:205; 22:218-9
Thurs-Sat, Feb 23rd-25th:
Mr Elliot to visit friends in Thornberry Park the whole day tomorrow 22:219; on Thursday night Mrs Musgrove, Henrietta, Captain Harville and Charles and Mary arrive 22:222
Fri, Feb 24th:
Anne meant to visit Lady Russell; Mrs Clay had an errand to run, so Anne waits until some time after breakfast; in come Charles and Mary Musgrove come for a few days to stay at White Hart with Henrietta & Captain Harville; Louisa, Captain Benwick and Mr Musgrove remain at Uppercross; Miss Elliot to visit Mrs Musgrove later in the morning with invitation; Anne goes off with Charles & Mary, a brief stop in Rivers St and then on to White Hart to meet Henrietta and Mrs Musgrove; note comes, a parcel, and then Captains Harville & Wentworth; Mary sees Mrs Clay and Mr Elliot from her window turning corner from Bath Street, but says Anne he was to leave Bath at 9 this morning and not return until tomorrow (now this somewhat contradicts what was said earlier which was that Mr Elliot would be gone from Thurs to Sat); Charles bought tickets to go to the play "tomorrow" night (Saturday)but forced to switch them to Tuesday; Sir Walter and Miss Elliot leave invitations; that evening Mrs Clay & Elizabeth planning party and Anne confronts Mrs Clay with her having seen Mrs Clay with Mr Elliot 3 hours after he was supposed to have left Bath for Thornberry (again another inconsistency) 22:221, 226-7, 232
Sat, Feb 25th:
Elizabeth asks Musgroves to her house for this evening (called "tomorrow evening" on Friday); Mr Elliot, Lady Dalrymple, Miss Carteret to come 22:225

This day mistakenly identified as only one day after Mrs Smith has spilt the beans; rains, Anne defers her visit to Rivers Street and goes to Musgroves at White Hart a bit after breakfast (late for appointment); Henrietta and Mary have gone out but she is to wait for them, Wentworth and Mrs Crofts have called; the two & Harville leave, the letter in which he says he has been there for 10 days, Charles, Henrietta, Mary come in; long talk in park 23:233

Sun, Feb 26th:
Napoleon escapes Elba and heads for Paris (100 days)
Tues, Feb 28th:
Day whole party of Musgroves, Captain Wentworth and Anne should have gone to the theatre 22:228

After engagement announced:

Soon Mr Elliot quits Bath, then Mrs Clay follows him, they live together, and it is doubtful whose cunning will win the day

Mrs Smith the earliest visitor in the married life of Captain and Mrs Wentworth, he acts and writes for her and gets for her what income from her property in the West Indies she has a right to

15 July:

Original Chapter 10:

Wed, Feb 22nd:
After Anne's long important conference with Mrs Smith, she does not make it home; instead she is met by Admiral Crofts on Gay Street and beckoned into Crofts's house; we have Stephen the servant, the mantuamaker, the Admiral's hint that Anne is having a romance, probably Mr Elliot meant, is led into room where Wentworth waiting, overhears Admiral and Wentworth's conference about lease signed or not signed, he has to tell her Admiral has told him of her engagement with Elliot and wants to offer to vacate house, Mrs Crofts comes and sees truth, Anne stays for dinner and then till 10 at night: very interesting all important time markers not yet in: no hint how long long he was in Shropshire or when exactly he came to Bath--so these things added on afterwards

All page citations have been to the Penguin consecutively numbered edition of Persuasion as edited by D. W. Harding.

Summary and Final Comments


As with Emma in first part of book we move along and suddenly zero in on a moment in time; there is a telling time by seasons: furniture timed by 4 summers' wear and 2 children; given scenes as epitomizing or typical rather than rooted in a specific time or place; again as with Emma the scaffolding is there and Austen knows where she is in calendar time and only lets us know when it suits her purpose; she has learnt how to put down a dialogue as having occurred without needing to anchor it so specifically in a calendared time; curious formulaic repetition of time makes for effect of nostalgia.

I picked out Emma for this summing up because Emma was the book written directly before Persuasion and so it should show a similar level of maturity. If I am right and we were to find out things at the close of the third volume which would make an endless rereading of Persuasion ironic and a hidden mystery, the two novels would then be closely alike except the latter is truncated. Its use of time in the second half of the book mirrors a less flexible use of time we find in the Austen's first 4 novels; in the opening sequence she was either going to reach for the kind of dual time we find in Emma or move back to her earlier way of plotting eventually.

2) Some of the inconsistencies:

There are a number of inconsistencies or contradictions; some may be deliberate (Mr Elliot does not account for an extra 2 weeks he spent after Lyme and before coming to Bath; he says he was there but 24 hours, Mrs Smith says her gossip told her he came for a day or two before Christmas); some are areas not corrected, which suggests that she came back to correct and device was not a fool-proof crutch but rather a way of anchoring the dream in frame of reality we all agree to observe: the whole of the week from the time of the concert party to Wentworth's revelation of his heart at White Hart has numerous contradictions.


The calendars of Austen's last two novels received less attention from Chapman. He did remark that Persuasion begins in summer 1814, and in brief suggested a mapping for that portion of the novel which takes place in Bath: as I show in my mapping there is in the novel a day-by-day accounting for time within a precisely plotted very few weeks in February of 1815. He also noted the number of indeterminate internals in Emma and Persuasion feel similar and are more frequent than in Austen's other four novels, suggested those chapters of Persuasion which are situated in Uppercross, and all of Emma may be aligned against the seasonal changes of one year.


Such as the bibliography is, I include it:
  • Chapman, NA & P 302-4.
  • Jo Modert, "Chronology Within the Novels," The Jane Austen Companion, edd. J. David Grey, A. Walton Litz, and Brian Southam (New York: Macmillan, 1986), 58.

Captain Wentworth (Ciarán Hinds)
and Anne Elliot (Amanda Root) embrace one another

Just about kissing

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Page Last Updated: 3 January 2003.