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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The pleasures Fanny had not known before REDUX

[Diana Birchall] " For the record, I never thought Fanny was having sexual fantasies.
She's an innocent girl. But I do think that the lushness and beauty of the nature writing in that passage, is meant to put in our minds something of Fanny's strong and awakening feelings....I like what you said about the bonny beck."

Yes, I thought you were saying exactly that, Diana, and, unless I am missing something, I am saying the same thing, but more forcefully. I also strongly assert (and I have a feeling you agree with this as well, at least to some extent) that this passage is not an isolated instance, not by a long shot---I can show that this is what JA did a hundred times in her novels, including, most relevantly to this passage, the conversation between Mary and Fanny at the Parsonage, where I claim
Edmund is the unspoken true subject. To me, it was a leitmotif that JA was particularly focused on in the character of Fanny, I think, because she is such a poetically minded soul.

I think one of the most profound aspects of JA's implicit psychology in her novels, is that she recognized that human emotion, especially love, operates on a principle of metaphor and association. She rarely failed to seize any opportunity, therefore, to subliminally connect people with striking places and things, such as landscapes and mansions, to show, without the necessity of explicit telling, how this occurs. In Fanny's mind and heart, Mansfield Park IS Edmund, and, as Eddy has articulated
so well, that positive association is strong, so powerful, that it overshadows the strong negative association of Mrs. Norris with Mansfield Park that Fanny surely also feels.

This is verisimilitude to real life. After all, in real life, we often don't realize why we have a particularly strong feeling (negative or positive) toward some object or place, but then, if we reflect, whether in solitude or, e.g., in therapy, we come to realize that such object or place took on that surprisingly strong emotional charge because it was associated, biochemically through the synapses and neurons, to a particular person about whom we have strong feelings.

Freud may have been the first to articulate such things in a theoretical intellectual argument, but writers like Shakespeare and JA had understood these principles long before Freud came along, and articulated them in their dramas and fictions, in ways that impact us much more powerfully than any intellectual formulation ever could.

And speaking of Eddy...

[Eddy Boyle] "Without jesting I thank Arnie for unlocking an insight about why Fanny
adores Mansfield Park and thank you for endorsing the idea. I have the impression that you two disagree on things, so your agreement on this point gives it a sort of convergent validity."

Diana and I agree about many things, and disagree about many things, but regardless of which applies in a given instance, it always is in amicable and stimulating ways. And I can see that the same is true between you and me.

Cheers, ARNIE

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