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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Yet another secret answer to the second charade in Emma (this one found by me)

Earlier today, I gave a total of five hints about yet another secret answer to the second charade in Emma (this one found by me is the second one I have found to date, which, when added to the one that Colleen Sheehan found, and the four (I think) that Anielka has found and revealed to date, makes a total of seven, in _addition_, of course, to Emma's answer, "courtship"). Talk about clueless, Emma was certain she had the only answer, and now there are seven more, and still counting....

I will now reveal the latest answer I found, along with some (relatively) brief comments explaining my five hints:

[But before I begin, one caveat--whether you love puzzle solutions or hate them, or somewhere in between, the two linked literary allusions, which I've discovered in Emma and will be summarizing below, stand on their own four feet, regardless of whether you think the secret answer I will be revealing is a valid one, or you think it is completely a figment of my imagination. The secret answer truly is only the icing on the allusive layer cake]

"1. The answer consists of four syllables."

My new answer is "coronation".

Although I stumbled upon it in a roundabout way, it can be derived simply and directly as follows:

"My first displays the wealth and pomp of kings, Lords of the earth! their luxury and ease. "

As Anielka argued, persuasively, this morning, a valid and persuasive answer to those two lines is "nation".

The best part of the word "nation" in a charade, to my mind, is that it is like a generic Lego block that can be tacked onto the end of a large number of prefixes (and not merely "impreg" ) to form a large number of interesting abstract nouns in English. Perfect for a charade in English language!

"Another view of man, my second brings,
Behold him there, the monarch of the seas! "

A valid answer to these two lines is "corona", which refers, among other things, to a crown (the English form of the same word) worn by a monarch, and which, as a bonus, also begins with the letter "c" (which abbreviation Anielka used to good effect in her explication of the "C of E" or "Church of England" answer given by her just the other day).

"But, ah! united, what reverse we have! "

And when we take nation-corona and reverse the word order, just as was done for "impregnation" (Anielka) and "implantation" (Elissa), we get corona-nation or coronation!

"Man's boasted power and freedom, all are flown; Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave, And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone. "

And I claim that this is the bookend to the "Crown of _Thorns_" which I argued was metaphorically worn by Jane Fairfax _during_ her worst travail in the novel. But once her complete reversal of fortune occurs after Box Hill, and Jane winds up sitting pretty in the end of the novel, look at what Frank says:

"You will be glad to hear (inclining his head, and whispering seriously) that my uncle means to give her all my aunt's jewels. They are to be new set. I am resolved to have some in an ornament for the head. Will not it be beautiful in her dark hair?"

Sure sounds to me like Frank (and Jane Austen, ventriloquistically) is whispering seriously about a "corona"!

But the best part of this answer is yet to come, as I skip ahead to my answer to Hint #3:

"3. There is a very famous work of literature which Harriet and Miss Bates are each independently hinting about, a literary work by an author I have written about publicly within the last year as an allusive source for JA novels other than Emma, although my earlier catches have been in reference to a _different_ work of literature by that author."

That very famous work of literature is Ovid's Metamorphoses---more precisely, Book 10--more precisely still, the last section of Book 10, containing the cautonary tale of Atalanta and Hippomenes told by Venus to Adonis (which does not work because Adonis hasn't really been listening, and pays a heavy price for his inattention). And, as to the latter part of Hint #3, within the last year, I wrote about the allusions I claimed JA made to Ovid's _Heroides_: [the first of four posts on that topic that day]

I could write 1,000 words just on the subject of all the ways that Ovid's version of the story of Atalanta is alluded to by JA in Emma, but if you are really interested, just read it yourself (it's only a few pages long) and you will see a great deal of the allusion right away without your needing me or anyone else to point all the allusions out to you--they really are everywhere--and first and foremost, it won't take any Janeite very long to realize that the character of Emma owes a great deal to the character of Ovid's Atalanta!

The most dramatic textual clues in Ovid's tale, the ones that actually led me to realize the answer I was looking for was "coronation", were two lines in Ovid's Book 10:

"The Monarch of the Seas" ("Regis Aquarum")


"Atalanta was crowned victor with a festal wreath [“et tegitur festa victrix Atalanta CORONA.”]

I.e., in Latin, "Atalanta corona" literally means "Atalanta was crowned"

And now on to my answer to Hint #2:

"2. Harriet Smith and Miss Bates are two of the hint-givers--that is very much as is the case with Colleen Sheehan's "Prince of Whales" answer. There are several clues hidden in plain sight in the text of Emma which confirm that this is indeed a valid answer. "

I will give you just a taste of these clues---

Harriet Smith's "wrong" guess of "Neptune" turns out to be correct not only as pointing toward Charles Lamb's _Triumph of the Whale_, but also as pointing toward Ovid's tale of Atalanta--Neptune being the great great great grandpa of Hippomenes, as he takes pains to tell Atalanta!

And Miss Bates's ejaculation "What a transformation!" upon entering the Crown Inn for the ball takes on all new meaning when you realize that "transformation" is the Latinate synonym of the Greek-origined "metamorphosis"!

And finally, you will see a whole _new_ reason for all of Miss Bates's going on and on and on about those damned apples--as in the golden apples which just happen to play a decisive role in the outcome of the footrace between Atalanta and Hippomenes.

"4. My answer is related to Anielka's "impregnation" answer in (at least) two very interesting ways, one of which will be obvious to all, the other being subtler and based on wordplay "

And now you see what I meant by the above Hint #4--it is obvious that my answer shares the ending "nation" with her answer, but what is more subtle is that her answer depends in part on the abbreviation "reg", which is part of the words "Regis Aquarum" meaning Monarch of the Seas, which is one of the clues that points to Ovid's Atalanta tale!

And, last but by no means least, here is my explanation of my Hint #5, which I added a few hours ago:

"5. The allusion to the (deceased) author is also a kind of rebuttal to a _contemporary_ author who also alluded to that earlier author."

The deceased author was, as stated above, Ovid. The contemporary author was none other than _Hannah More_, in particular Chapter 14 (title: "A VIEW OF THE PRINCIPLES AND CONDUCT PREVALENT AMONG WOMEN OF RANK AND FORTUNE") of her (best-selling) Strictures, which includes the following passage:

" Woman in the career of genius, is the Atalanta, who will risk losing the race by running out of her road to pick up the golden apple; while her male competitor, without, perhaps, possessing greater natural strength or swiftness, will more certainly attain his object, by direct pursuit, by being less exposed to the seductions of extraneous beauty, and will win the race, not by excelling in speed, but by despising the bait.*//*"

It is not news that JA read Hannah More, but as far as I can tell, it is news that this Chapter 14 was a significant source alluded to by JA in Emma, and nobody before has ever suggested that Ovid's tale of Atalanta was part of the mix for both authors!

Again, I could write 1,000 words about this, but I suggest that if you are interested, just read the Chapter by More, and literally two dozen excerpts will ring a distinct bell for parallel passages in Emma, and you will quickly realize that JA is sending up More in a comprehensive and devastating satirical critique!

That's it for now--there is a lot more to say about all of this, some very far reaching feminist implications, but no need to go there now. I welcome any public or private questions and comments, either in these groups or at my blog, where I will post this same message shortly.

Cheers, ARNIE


I realized I had not done one last search, to see if anyone in Janeites or Austen L had ever written about JA alluding to the Atalanta tale in Ovid's Metamorphoses.

I did the search, and what I saw was that a long time ago, the late Eugene McDonnell had once commented that he could make a pretty good case for JA having read Ovid's Metamorphoses, and much more recently, my friend Cathy Janofsky specifically commented to me that she saw all sorts of allusions to Ovid's Metamorphoses in JA's writing.

Cathy, if you're reading along, what do you think about the allusion to the Atalanta story that I see in Emma? I bet it was one of the ones that you spotted previously.....

I also want to thank Mary DeForest, about whose Persuasions articles I have written deserved praises in the past, for being the earliest pioneer in this realm of JA's classical allusions, and showing, 23 years ago, that it was a vast untapped area for further fruitful study.

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