ABOVE: The 1813 Cruikshank caricature of The Prince of Whales: The Fisherman at Anchor.................. Read Colleen Sheehan's articles (including the footnotes) for the amazing Jane Austen connection:
http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol27no1/sheehan.htm


FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: @JaneAustenCode

MY MOST RECENT PRESENTATIONS WERE...

...Halloween, 2010, when I addressed the JASNA AGM in Portland re: "Remember the country and age in which we live": The Covert Death-in-childbirth Anti-parody in Northanger Abbey"

http://www.jasna.org/agms/portland/breakout.html

AND MY OTHER RECENT PRESENTATIONS HAVE BEEN:

...to various JASNA chapters re: “The Shadow Story of Emma: Jane Austen, the Secret Feminist”:

In NYC....

http://www.jasnany.org/pdf/may1.pdf

...and also in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Gainesville, Atlanta, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.

WANT ME TO GIVE A PRESENTATION TO YOUR JASNA REGIONAL GROUP, TOO?

I want to present to other JASNA chapters. Email arnieperlstein@myacc.net if you're interested!


Friday, May 27, 2011

P.S. re Letter 26: Jane Austen's Cock & Bull Story--one of the best of its kind--about Tristram Shandy...and May-Poles!

It only occurred to me _after_ sending my above captioned post to check to see if there was any wordplay in Northanger Abbey on the name "Sterne", something I strongly suspected based on my increasing conviction of the importance of _Tristram Shandy_ as an inspiration and touchstone for Northanger Abbey. While I did not find any such wordplay, I was hardly disappointed, because what I found instead was a reminder, which I had forgotten, that there is actually an _explicit_ allusion to Sterne in one of NA's numerous narrative interjections:

"And while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens—there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them."


Perhaps at first glance that does not seem very interesting--after all, the narrator mentions "a chapter from Sterne" in the context of criticizing the practice of those literary vultures who make their living by collecting and publishing bits and pieces of the writings of actual creative authors, while attempting to give due value and credit to "the labour of the novelist".

But that line takes on a whole different hue and significance when you read my previous post, and think about the passage I quoted earlier today from JA's Letter 26, including, specifically this part: "...I am reading Henry’s History of England..."

Is it just a coincidence that in Letter 26, JA mentions a History of England in a passage which is saturated in Sternean Shandyisms, and then in NA (which, I repeat again and again, JA was actively engaged in rewriting while writing Letter 26) JA writes a passage which refers to both "the History of England" _and_ "a chapter from Sterne"?

That was a rhetorical question, because I am certain that in some way this was part of the veiled message to Martha that Sterne would be high on the agenda when she came to visit. I actually believe that the odds of such parallelism occurring by chance must be smaller than what was left hanging with poor Tristram after his unfortunate early encounter with a sash-window, as described in the following passage:

"One would imagine from this--(though for my own part I somewhat question it)--that my father, before that time, had actually wrote that remarkable chapter in the Tristra-pardia, which to me is the most original and entertaining in the whole book,--and that is the chapter upon sash-windows, with a _bitter philippic_ at the end of it, upon the forgetfulness of chambermaids. First, had the matter been taken into consideration before the event happened, my father certainly would have nailed up the sash-window for good an' all;"


Bitter philippic? Another unusual phrase, where have Janeites heard it before? How about Chapter 34 of S&S, in the following passage:

Before her removing from Norland, Elinor had painted a very pretty pair of screens for her sister-in-law, which being now just mounted and brought home, ornamented her present drawing room....The Colonel, though disclaiming all pretensions to connoisseurship, warmly admired the screens, as he would have done any thing painted by Miss Dashwood; and on the curiosity of the others being of course excited, they were handed round for general inspection. Mrs. Ferrars, not aware of their being Elinor's work, particularly requested to look at them; and after they had received gratifying testimony of Lady Middletons's approbation, Fanny presented them to her mother, considerately informing her, at the same time, that they were done by Miss Dashwood.

"Hum"—said Mrs. Ferrars—"very pretty,"—and without regarding them at all, returned them to her daughter.

Perhaps Fanny thought for a moment that her mother had been quite rude enough,—for, colouring a little, she immediately said,"They are very pretty, ma'am—an't they?" But then again, the dread of having been too civil, too encouraging herself, probably came over her, for she presently added, "Do you not think they are something in Miss Morton's style of painting, Ma'am?—She DOES paint most delightfully!—How beautifully her last landscape is done!"

"Beautifully indeed! But SHE does every thing well."

Marianne could not bear this.—She was already greatly displeased with Mrs. Ferrars; and such ill-timed praise of another, at Elinor's expense, though she had not any notion of what was principally meant by it, provoked her immediately to say with warmth, "This is admiration of a very particular kind!—what is Miss Morton to us?—who knows, or who cares, for her?—it is Elinor of whom WE think and speak."

And so saying, she took the screens out of her sister-in-law's hands, to admire them herself as they ought to be admired.

Mrs. Ferrars looked exceedingly angry, and drawing herself up more stiffly than ever, pronounced in retort this bitter philippic, "Miss Morton is Lord Morton's daughter."

Fanny looked very angry too, and her husband was all in a fright at his sister's audacity. Elinor was much more hurt by Marianne's warmth than she had been by what produced it; but Colonel Brandon's eyes, as they were fixed on Marianne, declared that he noticed only what was amiable in it, the affectionate heart which could not bear to see a sister slighted in the smallest point. END OF EXCERPT


I had previously thought that JA got that phrase from the Loiterer, but now I see that lurking in the shadows behind the Loiterer was the clever mind of Laurence Sterne. This passage from S&S can be seen as a veiled discussion of derivative, unoriginal art, the kind that Marianne decries, being a passionate advocate for her own sister's highly original art---and that is precisely the meaning of the above quoted passage from NA praising the labour of the original novelist!

Cheers, ARNIE

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