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

Friday, November 9, 2012

P.P.S. re Letter 85 to Cassandra dated May 24,1813: Mrs. Bingley and MISTER Darcy!



In response to my immediately preceding post, Nancy Mayer responded as follows:

"But there is nothing in the novel to suggest that Darcy has mistresses or that he frequents courtesans or seduces his future sister in law. if Jane and darcy had been intimate that would make the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth voidable. Jane Austen doesn't suggest that Darcy's faults lie in the realm of seduction of respectable females. Frank Churchill, Willoughby or Wickham would more closely resemble the  Prince of Wales than does Darcy. I really think it is stretching it."

Well, I guess I must be psychic, Nancy, because I already was reading the shadows of Pride & Prejudice, and in particular the relationship of Darcy and Jane, that way _before_ I had the slightest idea about the
background of Mrs. Bingley's portrait.

But I know I'm not psychic---what I am is a creative interpreter of the  Jane Austen Code, and I am also stubbornly and zealously diligent in  digging up the textual and extratextual evidence that supports my
interpretations.

Here's a thought experiment for you (or anyone else reading along here)----if you genuinely are curious about the validity of my interpretation. Go back and reread P&P _as_ _if_ Jane and Darcy had been
involved romantically, but totally unbeknownst to Elizabeth. You will be very very surprised at what pops out at you if you do. You will find much the same sort of "bread crumbs" that are made _explicit_ at the end of _Emma_, as Emma observes Jane (that name again!) and Frank.

Nancy, you were there in Janeites when I first glimpsed a shadow story element in a JA novel, as I recount in the Bio at my blog:

"Then, in 2002, I whimsically wondered whether Willoughby stalked Marianne Dashwood and staged their “accidental” meeting. I retraced his steps, followed the textual “bread crumbs”, and verified my hunch."

My approach is entirely experimental---I test my hypotheses against the texts of the novels, carefully rereading relevant portions of the novels to see if they fit with my alternative readings--if the "bread crumbs" are there, I know I've been correct. If not, I make no claim. For me, this kind of rereading is a sort of science.

And the connection of "Mrs. Bingley's portrait" to courtesans, mistresses, and the Prince Regent is, to my mind, a pretty compelling bit of extratextual evidence, that coordinates perfectly with what I see _in_ the text of P&P!

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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