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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, now living in "Portlandia"!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Answers to Puzzle #1

Before giving the answer to Puzzle #1 that I had in mind, I want to recognize a very interesting alternative answer that I received from Carmen Brissette Grayson, to wit:

"In her classy, ironic way, Austen illustrates that the self-conscious attempts to falsify reality so that true motives are masked as "natural and simple" set the narrative's trajectory."

Indeed, the novel Emma is shot through from start to finish with characters (especially the speaker, Mrs. Elton) who, for various reasons seek to mask their true motives. Thanks, Carmen!

Allow me to add to that answer another one, which can best be shown graphically, as follows:

"That's quite unnecessary; I see Jane every day: -- but AS YOU LIKE. IT is to be a morning scheme, you know, Knightley; quite a simple thing...."

So what was Jane Austen doing here? It might be a natural reaction to see it as a cutesy, clever, covert allusion to the title of a Shakespeare play. But all my experience tells me that, funny and clever as it is, to put that title into Mrs. Elton's mouth, this is more.

First, it is a clue to tell the reader who detects it that it would be worthwhile to give some thought as to how and why Jane Austen herself may have alluded to As You Like It in Emma. I have, and I think you will find that a rewarding exercise.

But second, and more significant, I think, it is a metafictional message to the reader from Jane Austen herself (who does indeed "see Jane every day" the mirror!), in which she is alerting the reader that in interpreting much of the mysterious action of the novel, it can be read straight, taking the text at face value, or it can be read slightly askew, using the clues and hints in the novel as wormholes into the secret subtext of the novel. Read it this way or you like it!


Anonymous said...

you may like to share your puzzles with the ladies (and a couple of gentlemen) at c19 Url:

Icha said...

This lady was indeed amazing! So, when are you gonna post the answers to the 7th June quiz? I can't even guess the anagram of EMMA!