(& scroll all the way down to read my literary sleuthing posts)
Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, now living in "Portlandia"!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Another source behind the Second Charade in Emma?

While trying unsuccessfully to figure out the deeper answer to the second charade in Emma that Anielka Briggs claims to have discovered, I did come across a passage in a book published in English in 1748 which seemed to me to possibly be echoed by JA in that charade in several ways. While it is probably coincidental, I decided to bring it forward anyway, hoping that perhaps it will lead to additional connections to JA's second charade.

The book is The Life of Petrarch collected by S. Dobson, and here is the relevant passage, which describes events which occurred during a trip to Avignon by Petrarch. I've capitalized the words “power”, ”united”, "behold", "pomp", "prince", "Leviathan", "vicar" and "kingdom", as well as the reference to the delivery of an anonymous letter by dropping it, all of which resonate to the charade:

"The next affair in debate at Avignon, was the enterprise of John Viscomti, the brother and successor of Luchin. He was archbishop, as well as governor of Milan, and he aimed at being master of all Italy. The Pope on this sent a nuncio, to re-demand the city of Bologna, which he had purchased; and to choose whether he would possess the spiritual or the temporal POWER, for both could not be UNITED. The Archbishop, after hearing the message with respect, said he would answer it the following Sunday at the cathedral. The day came; and after celebrating mass in his pontifical robes, he advanced towards the Legate, requiring him to repeat the orders of the Pope on the choice of the spiritual or the temporal: then taking the cross in one hand, and drawing forth a naked sword with the other, he said, "BEHOLD my spiritual and my temporal: and tell the holy father from me, that with the one I will defend the other."

There is another anecdote related of this PRINCE: and they all serve to shew his artful character, and with what apparent modesty and submission he covered his pride and resolution. The Cardinal de Ceccano, going on his legateship to Rome, passed by Milan. The Archbishop went out to meet him, with so numerous and splendid a train, and so many led horses richly harnessed; that in surprise he said to him, "Mr. Archbishop, why all this POMP?" "It is," replied he, affecting an humble air and a soft tone of voice, "to convince the holy father that he has under him a little priest who can do something."

There was AN ANONYMOUS LETTER that was also attributed to this prince; but it appears more likely to have been written by Petrarch, from the style of IRONY that runs through it. One day, when the Pope was in full consistory, a Cardinal who is not named, LET THIS LETTER FALL in so cunning a manner, that it was brought to the Pope, who ordered it to be read in the presence of all the court. The inscription was in these terms:
"LEVIATHAN, PRINCE of darkness, to Pope Clement his VICAR, and to the Cardinals his counsellors and good friends."
After an enumeration of very dreadful crimes which LEVIATHAN ascribes to this corrupt court, and on which he makes them great compliments, exhorting them to continue in this noble course that they may more and more merit his protection; he inveighs against the doctrine of the Apostles, and turns their plain and sober life into the highest ridicule. "I know, says he, that so far from imitating, you have their piety and humility in horror and derision. I have no reproach to make you on this account, but that your words do not always correspond with your actions. Correct this fault if you wish to be advanced in my KINGDOM." He concludes thus: "Pride, your superb mother, salutes you; with your sisters Avarice, Lewdness, and the rest of your family; who make every day new progress under your encouragement and protection. Given from our centre of hell, in the presence of all the devils." The Pope and the Cardinals took little notice of this letter, and continued the same course of life." END QUOTE

I know little of Petrarch's poetry, but, upon reflection, it occurred to me that one of the heroines of JA's juvenilia Love and Freindship (in Volume the  Second) is named "Laura", which was not a typical English name in JA's day---and of course it is the same name as Petrarch's famous unrequited lover immortalized in his poetry. And I also recalled that Lesley Castle, which comes later in Volume the Second and therefore was written by JA not long after she wrote Love and Freindship, has several
passages describing travel in Italy.

But perhaps the most intriguing possible connection between Petrarch and the second charade in Emma  is that Petrarch was so influential a figure in the history of Western poetry, in particular in shaping the form of the sonnet. I remembered that Anielka had written something earlier this year about the structure of the second charade and sonnets, and I quickly tracked it down, here is what she wrote:

"Sonnet experts amongst you will know that the Shakespearean sonnet is just one form of sonnet and is based on the original fourteen-line format by Petrarch. Here's where Austen is clever. In a Petrarchian sonnet the meaning falls in two parts. The first two quatrains form an eight line octave that sort of "poses a question that needs resolution". The third quatrain and the couplet form a six-line sestet and "resolve" the question posed by the octave. This is the ONLY aspect of a sonnet that can be considered "a charade'."

Hmm....might all of this smoke indicate that in a variety of ways, Petrarch was on JA's radar screen as she wrote Emma?

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

Turtles All The Way Down: Jane Austen's Rosetta Stone

I just wrote the following in response to a post in Austen-L by Anielka Briggs:


You just wrote "Harriet is definitely very clever and the reader should not be tricked along with Emma. The most revealing scene that "proves" Harriet is clever is when she reveals, in front of Emma, that she knows the answer to The Charade perfectly well. In fact she knows the real answer is "Leviathan" (which Colleen Sheehan also sees as a parody on Prince of Wales). I've posted this several times but here's the scene that proves without a shadow of a doubt that Harriet knows the answer to the charade and cannot be a "moron" ".

To be clear, your (excellent) discovery about Harriet reciting the Royal Navy ship names in proper order of rank, was the _second_ discovery that Harriet is a sharp elf at charade solving, not the first.

Colleen was the first to show Harriet's brilliance, in 2006:

Here is what Colleen wrote on that specific point, it deserves to be repeated:

"Emma quickly and confidently dismisses Harriet Smith’s guesses to the charade and readily offers the solution:  court and ship, or courtship.  While this is a perfectly credible solution to the riddle, I do not think it is the only one. Harriet’s more literal guesses to the charade include kingdom, Neptune, trident, mermaid, and shark. If unlike Emma we are not so quick to reject the more literal approach to solving the charade, then “Lords of the earth” could be princes or, in the singular, prince.  (Since in later lines “Lords” becomes “Lord,” we are encouraged to change plurals to singulars, and vice versa.)  And the “monarch of the seas” is certainly whale or, in the plural, whales. United?  Well, you have it:  Prince [of]
Whales! On 15 March 1812 a satirical poem about the Prince was published in the Examiner, the English periodical edited by James Henry Leigh Hunt and his brother John Hunt.  The poem was entitled “THE TRIUMPH OF THE WHALE,” replete with kings, sharks, mermaids, and a Regent to boot..."

So, when we step back a pace and observe the above in full perspective, we can see that your discovery shows that Harriet was a sharp elf in seeing not one but _two_ solutions to the charade, and, what's more, your discovery shows that Harriet, with true Austenian parsimony, manages to wink at _both_ of those secret and _related_ answers (Prince of Whales and Leviathan) by means of the _same_ "wrong" (in Emma's clueless opinion) answers!

But that's only the beginning of the wonder of all this. Stepping back one step further, we gain additional perspective, when we take note that this sort of tightly bound, parsimonious, double-duty structure of hidden meaning is exactly analogous to the tightly bound structure of hidden meaning which Colleen also opened the door to in 2006, when she pointed out that each of the two stanzas of this charade has an anagrammed acrostic on the word/name "Lamb".

Just as Colleen inspired _you_ to identify Harriet's ship-naming prowess pointing to the secret answer "Leviathan", Colleen's acrostic discovery provided _me_ with the clue I needed in order to realize that this charade was also one and the same as the "acrostic" which Mrs. Elton is given by the "abominable puppy" whom I had in 2005 already identified as Frank Churchill himself!

So all of the above, i.e., Colleen's initial discoveries which inspired you and me, reveals that this charade truly is the Rosetta Stone of Jane Austen's fiction, both for all these multiple intertwined structures of
hidden meaning, but also, on a metaphorical level, because JA is practically screaming to us that it is not only this charade which is structured this way, but also Jane Austen's _novels_, most of all _Emma_,
which _also_  have multiple meanings--i.e., my discovery of JA's "shadow stories" and your later claims of multiple additional layers of meaning.

It means that with Jane Austen, it never was just about parlor tricks and clever charades, but it  _always_ comes down to the stories themselves, and the characters.

Or as Stephen Hawking famously put it in A Brief History of Time: "It's turtles all the way down!"

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

Location, Location, Location; Imagination, Imagination, Imagination

In Austen-L, Linda wrote: "Yes, "imagination" is sometimes linked to "fancy" in the novels; "whim" and "fancy" are often linked as well. Here are three examples where "imagination" appears close to "fancy":

"In Lydia's imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness. She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers."

"You supposed more than really existed. But now suppose as much as you chuse; give a loose to your fancy, indulge your imagination in every possible flight which the subject will afford, and unless you believe me actually married, you cannot greatly err."

'"Historians, you think," said Miss Tilney, "are not happy in their flights of fancy. They display imagination without raising interest.'"

Linda, those two passages in P&P and one in NA are not the only passages where both words are used in close proximity. Below I reproduce _nine_ others I found from amongst all six novels. Note that 1/3 of the twelve are (no surprise to me) in _Emma_, and further note in particular the matched set of passages from Chapters 37 and 45 in _Emma_, which are _both_ very specifically about the reality or unreality of Mrs. Churchill's ill health, which tells us that JA had the paired use of those two words in the passage in Ch. 37 in very conscious mind as she paired those same words to describe the identical item in Ch. 45.

When you read all twelve examples for sense, I believe it will be found indisputable that when JA uses the words "fancy" and "imagination", or variants on same, in the same passage in her fiction, she is universally using them as _synonyms_. And, from a quick scan of a sampling of the much more numerous examples of where she uses these two words in separated passages, she generally uses them interchangeably as well.

So, whatever JA's familiarity was with Crabbe's or anyone else's distinctions between "fancy" and "imagination", she, in her novels, did not make any noticeable distinction between them whatsoever.

Which brings me back to Letter 91--I believe I must go back to my initial position, which is that JA was mostly likely using those two words in the same sentence, in order to make a hyperbolic point to her sister--she's saying, in effect: Cassandra, if you want to understand the preceding passage, you must use your imagination, and what's more, use your imagination, too! Sorta like the cliche about real estate sales---what matters is location, location, location. Well, in reading JA's coded passages, whether in her letters or in her novels, what the reader needs to bring to the table is imagination, imagination, imagination!

Here, then are those other nine passages:

S&S Ch. 9: His person and air were equal to what her FANCY had ever drawn for the hero of a favourite story; and in his carrying her into the house with so little previous formality, there was a rapidity of thought which particularly recommended the action to her. Every circumstance belonging to him was interesting. His name was good, his residence was in their favourite village, and she soon found out that of all manly dresses a shooting-jacket was the most becoming. Her IMAGINATION was busy, her reflections were pleasant, and the pain of a sprained ankle was disregarded.

S&S Ch. 41: The idea of Edward's being a clergyman, and living in a small parsonage-house, diverted him beyond measure; and when to that was added the FANCIFUL IMAGERY of Edward reading prayers in a white surplice, and publishing the banns of marriage between John Smith and Mary Brown, he could conceive nothing more ridiculous.

NA Ch. 5: This sort of mysteriousness, which is always so becoming in a hero, threw a fresh grace in Catherine’s IMAGINATION around his person and manners, and increased her anxiety to know more of him. From the Thorpes she could learn nothing, for they had been only two days in Bath before they met with Mrs. Allen. It was a subject, however, in which she often indulged with her fair friend, from whom she received every possible encouragement to continue to think of him; and his impression on her FANCY was not suffered therefore to weaken.

NA Ch. 10: You will allow, that in both, man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal; that in both, it is an engagement between man and woman, formed for the advantage of each; and that when once entered into, they belong exclusively to each other till the moment of its dissolution; that it is their duty, each to endeavour to give the other no cause for wishing that he or she had bestowed themselves elsewhere, and their best interest to keep their own IMAGINATIONS from wandering towards the perfections of their neighbours, or FANCYING that they should have been better off with anyone else.

Emma Ch. 15: His eldest daughter's alarm was equal to his own. The horror of being blocked up at Randalls, while her children were at Hartfield, was full in her IMAGINATION; and FANCYING the road to be now just passable for adventurous people, but in a state that admitted no delay, she was eager to have it settled, that her father and Emma should remain at Randalls, while she and her husband set forward instantly through all the possible accumulations of drifted snow that might impede them.

Emma Ch. 31: But, on the other hand, she could not admit herself to be unhappy, nor, after the first morning, to be less disposed for employment than usual; she was still busy and cheerful; and, pleasing as he was, she could yet IMAGINE him to have faults; and farther, though thinking of him so much, and, as she sat drawing or working, forming a thousand amusing schemes for the progress and close of their attachment, FANCYING interesting dialogues, and inventing elegant letters; the conclusion of every IMAGINARY declaration on his side was that she refused him. Their affection was always to subside into friendship. Every thing tender and charming was to mark their parting; but still they were to part

Emma Ch. 37: That she was really ill was very certain; he had declared himself convinced of it, at Randalls. Though much might be FANCY, he could not doubt, when he looked back, that she was in a weaker state of health than she had been half a year ago. He did not believe it to proceed from any thing that care and medicine might not remove, or at least that she might not have many years of existence before her; but he could not be prevailed on, by all his father's doubts, to say that her complaints were merely IMAGINARY, or that she was as strong as ever. It soon appeared that London was not the place for her. She could not endure its noise. Her nerves were under continual irritation and suffering; and by the ten days' end, her nephew's letter to Randalls communicated a change of plan. They were going to remove immediately to Richmond. Mrs. Churchill had been recommended to the medical skill of an eminent person there, and had otherwise a FANCY for the place.

Emma Ch. 45:Mrs. Churchill, after being disliked at least twenty-five years, was now spoken of with compassionate allowances. In one point she was fully justified. She had never been admitted before to be seriously ill. The event acquitted her of all the FANCIFULNESS, and all the selfishness of IMAGINARY complaints.

Persuasion Ch. 17: Lady Russell let this pass, and only said in rejoinder, "I own that to be able to regard you as the future mistress of Kellynch, the future Lady Elliot, to look forward and see you occupying your dear mother's place, succeeding to all her rights, and all her popularity, as well as to all her virtues, would be the highest possible gratification to me. You are your mother's self in countenance and disposition; and if I might be allowed to FANCY you such as she was, in situation, and name, and home, presiding and blessing in the same spot, and only superior to her in being more highly valued! My dearest Anne, it would give me more delight than is often felt at my time of life!"
Anne was obliged to turn away, to rise, to walk to a distant table, and, leaning there in pretended employment, try to subdue her feelings this picture excited. For a few moments her IMAGINATION and her heart were bewitched. The idea of becoming what her mother had been; of having the precious name of "Lady Elliot" first revived in herself; of being restored to Kellynch, calling it her home again, her home for ever, was a charm which she could not immediately resist. Lady Russell said not another word, willing to leave the matter to its own operation; and believing that, could Mr. Elliot at that moment with propriety have spoken for himself! -- she believed, in short, what Anne did not believe. The same IMAGE of Mr. Elliot speaking for himself brought Anne to composure again. The charm of Kellynch and of "Lady Elliot" all faded away. She never could accept him. And it was not only that her feelings were still adverse to any man save one; her judgment, on a serious consideration of the possibilities of such a case, was against Mr. Elliot. ….. Lady Russell saw either less or more than her young friend, for she saw nothing to excite distrust. She could not IMAGINE a man more exactly what he ought to be than Mr. Elliot; nor did she ever enjoy a sweeter feeling than the hope of seeing him receive the hand of her beloved Anne in Kellynch church, in the course of the following autumn

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fancy and Imagination: Crabbe's Definitions Known to Jane Austen

A good but very reticent friend who mostly lurks in these groups suggested that I take a look at Crabbe's widely read book, _English_  _Synonymes_, and she was spot-on, as here is what Crabbe has to say on the relationship between "fancy" and "imagination":

"Fancy, Imagination. — From what has already been said the distinction between fancy and imagination, as operations of thought, will be obvious. Fancy, considered as a power, simply brings the object to the mind or makes it appear; but imagination, from image, in Latin imago, from the root found in imitari, English imitate, is a power which presents the images or likenesses of things. The fancy, therefore, only employs itself about things without regarding their nature; but the imagination aims at tracing a resemblance and getting a true copy. The fancy consequently forms combinations, either real or unreal, as chance may direct; but the imagination is seldomer led astray. The fancy is busy in dreams or when the mind is in a disordered state; but the imagination is supposed to act when the intellectual powers are in full play.
The fancy is employed on light and trivial objects which are present to the senses; the imagination soars above all vulgar objects and carries us from the world of matter into the world of spirits, from time present to the time to come.
A milliner or mantua-maker may employ her fancy in the decorations of a cap or gown; but the poet's imagination depicts everything grand, everything bold, and everything remote.
Although Mr. Addison has thought proper, for his convenience, to use the words fancy and imagination promiscuously when writing on this subject, yet the distinction, as above pointed out. has been observed both in familiar discourse and in writing. We say that we fancy, not that we imagine, that wo see or hear something; the pleasures of the imagination, not of the fancy."    END QUOTE

Crabbe's definition would be of particular interest to us who study JA, as his influential book was first published in 1792, when JA was 15 and was already embarked on her career as a writer, and we know from a variety of evidence that Crabbe was very much on her radar screen during her entire writing career. And she would particularly have enjoyed his no-nonsense, clear way of writing---no fancy (ha ha) Latinate verbiage to cloud his meaning, mostly straightforward Anglo-Saxon words served his purposes very well. So, I think it extremely likely that JA had Crabbe's definitions in mind as she wrote Letter 91, especially when I note that JA _explicitly_ refers to Crabbe _three_ times in Letters 89-93!

And reading his definitions  reinforces my sense of JA having written Miss Bates as a woman who, as a survival strategy, plays the role of  a silly woman overwhelmed by fancy, but whose seemingly random chaotic stream of fancies are actually sophisticated poetic expressions generated by a fertile _imagination_.

So, bravo to my reticent friend, for a brilliant catch!

In my next post, I will respond to Linda's interesting and insightful categorizing of different shades of meaning of  "fancy".

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

More re Jane Austen's Letter 91, Fancy and Imagination, and Miss Bates

 Diana Birchall responded to my last two posts in Austen L and Janeites:  "I also don't buy Arnie's deduction that Jane Austen is turning the household objects into the female reproductive system, nor that Miss Bates is a self-portrait; but that is neither here nor there."

Well, no, I'd say that issue is here and there, in fact, it's the heart of the matter. I've given a single explanation for all that (as you aptly call it) "determined unintelligibility"  and, what's more,  I've pointed to the very passages in Emma which have that exact same quality of "determined unintelligibility" ---either Miss Bates is talking about total trivial nonsense that the reader can safely ignore--that is Emma's reaction, and that has been the reaction of most readers of the novel for two centuries. Or...the reader can ask why Jane Austen went to the trouble of giving all this detail about what appears to be total trivia and nonsense, in both Miss Bates's speeches, and also in that passage of Letter 91. And (most important), why JA winks toward the well-established debate about fancy and imagination, which clearly is directing CEA to pay close attention to this apparent nonsense, and to decode it.

Remember, CEA is not the only person who would be reading Letter 91, so JA decided to convey this particular message in code, whereby only CEA would take the time and effort to decode it.

Diana: "What we have here is one of the most determinedly unintelligible passages in the letters, made all the more complex by the introduction of these delicate pre-Coleridgian definitions.  Let's look again: < I knew there was Sugar in the Tin, but had no idea of there being enough to last through your Company. All the better. - You ought not to think this new Loaf better than the other, because that was the first of 5 which all came together. Something of fancy perhaps, & something of imagination." What ever can the woman mean! Is she being playful with the fancy and imagination terms, teasing Cassandra for saying one loaf was better than the other when they are all identical? The trouble is that we simply have not seen what it was Cassandra said that she is responding to."

I suggest you can't provide a compelling alternative explanation because mine fits everything JA was doing as a novelist at the time.

Diana: "Ellen helpfully puts the fancy/imagination issue in historical intellectual context: < She mentions the then growingly common opposition of fancy and imagination. Until later in the century people, writers, philosophers opposed reason and judgement to fancy and the imagination and on either side of the equation the terms were blended. It was Lord Kames who was a central member of the school who began to distinguish forms of imagation and praise some. Johnson is among those who still see in imagination much danger: delusion, that way madness, egoism, and Austen reflects this in her portrait of Marianne Dashwood. To be literal...could it be, Austen is saying that her "idea" that there wasn't enough sugar to last, is "fancy," while Cassandra's thinking one loaf better than another, "imagination"? What the terms meant to her is rather subtle; but she might be making the two word-illustrations, as a playfully philosophical joke. Yes, that would at least make some sense, and be in character. "

That doesn't ring true for me.  JA, like Shakespeare, grew up in the country near animals, and not in a privileged life, so she was extremely familiar with what went on in the barnyard, and in the kitchen and the washroom, among other home industries.  So her novels and letters are saturated with earthy metaphors derived from that youthful rural experience. So I suggest that the female body, as reflected metaphorically in the country world she knew grew up in, was never far from her focus.

But yes, of course, she also was too brilliant and learned, in her autodidactic fashion, not to be up on what Lord Kames and other philosophical types had opined about imagination and fancy. But...she was always putting her own personal earthy feminist stamp on all those debates.  She was never content to passively echo what these men had written on these weighty topics, and I can hear the deflating mockery of her teenage History of England in her sentence about fancy and imagination,  her laughing at pompous pontifications about imagination and fancy from men who thought women could not understand such "subtle" distinctions.

Which is the reason for the existence of Miss Bates--give the sexists a character who appears too stupid and uneducated to understand what matters, but endow that character with real poetic genius, imagination, and (most telling) subtle insight into human nature.

I believe JA examined the ideas of male scholars like Lord Kames who engaged in high-flown flights of intellectual argument in distinguishing between "fancy" and "imagination", and she realized that these were useless categories for people living real life, because nothing in their pontifications would provide assistance to someone trying to determine the aesthetic or moral value of a given work of literature, such a a poem or a novel.

I.e., they were all begging the question, because they assumed that it was obvious as to which particular writings were the produce of "fancy" and which were the product of "imagination".  That determination is not an objective process, it is deeply subjective, i.e., one person's masterpiece is another person's hackwork.

And..(here's the key point), JA was well aware that the gender of the author was a major prejudicial factor in determining how a given work of literature was judged, in the real world, by a given reader.  I.e., a female author was assumed by male readers to be writing about domestic trivia, while a male author was assumed by all to be writing about "the meaning of life".

So....that's why Miss Bates is such a radical feminist character--JA, in her typical audacious way, has chosen to tackle the deeply sexist prejudice against women head on, by giving the sexists a woman who can safely be ignored.

And it is clear to me that the passage in question in Letter 91, with all its domestic trivia, and it's excited tone about loaves of bread, and sugar in the tin, is pure satire. JA is writing a passage which a man reading it will skip right past, saying, "Women's trivia".  She's deliberately writing what appears to be the product of "fancy", but actually, she is using a surface "fanciful" appearance to mask a deeper "imaginative" meaning.  That's exactly why she alerts CEA to look for both fancy and imagination in what JA writes. Beneath the surface jumble, there is real meaning.

That is exactly what she did in all her fiction, masking imagination with surface fancy.

Finally, I am reminded of one other point---there is an extraordinary correlation between the mock-obsequious tone of JA's letters to James Stanier Clarke, on the one hand, and the Miss Bates speeches in Emma, on the other.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

Friday, December 28, 2012

P.S. re Jane Austen's Letter 91: "Something of fancy perhaps, & something of imagination"

In response to my post yesterday....

....Diana Birchall pointed out earlier today in Austen L and Janeites that the poet Samuel Coleridge addressed the question [of imagination and fancy] in his Biographia Litteraria, distinguishing sharply between the two.

As I will argue at the end of this post, I now understand exactly how salient the distinction between imagination and fancy really was for Jane Austen. It was so important for her, that she designed her greatest creation, Miss Bates, as the character who perfectly illustrates that distinction, because Miss Bates appears to Emma and to the uncritical reader to speak nothing but fancy, whereas, to the critical, sensitive reader, Miss Bates's speech demonstrates the highest level of imagination.

First, here is a quotation from Chapter 13 of Coleridge's work which makes the distinction between his definitions of imagination and fancy pretty clear:

"The Imagination then I consider either as primary, or secondary. The primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary Imagination I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate: or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still at all events it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead. FANCY, on the contrary, has no other counters to play with, but fixities and definites. The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of time and space; while it is blended with, and modified by that empirical phaenomenon of the will, which we express by the word Choice. But equally with the ordinary memory the Fancy must receive all its materials ready made from the law of association." END QUOTE

So it seems that for Coleridge, secondary imagination is the faculty used by the writer in creating a coherent reality that is presented to the artist's readers, whereas fancy is a non-creative faculty which passively transmits an incoherent jumble of sense impressions.

Here is what appears to me to be an excellent, crystal-clear online summary of the above by someone going by the fanciful name "Royal Queen of Literature":

"Imagination and fancy, however, differs in kind. Fancy is not a creative power at all. It only combines what is perceives into beautiful shapes, but like the imagination it does not fuse and unify. The difference between the two is the same as the difference between a mechanical mixture and a chemical compound. In a mechanical mixture a number of ingredients are brought together. They are mixed up, but they do not lose their individual properties. In a chemical compound, the different ingredients combine to form something new. The different ingredients no longer exist as separate identities. They lose their respective properties and fuse together to cerate something new and entirely different. A compound is an act of creation; while a mixture is merely a bringing together of a number of separate elements. Thus imagination creates new shapes and forms of beauty by fusing and unifying the different impressions it receive from the external world. Fancy is not creative. It is a kind of memory; it randomly brings together images, and even when brought together, they continue to retain their separate and individual properties. They receive no coloring or modification from the mind. It is merely mechanical juxtaposition and not a chemical fusion. ...For Coleridge, Fancy is the drapery of poetic genius but imagination is its very soul which forms all into one graceful and intelligent whole. Coleridge owed his interest in the study of imagination to Wordsworth. But Wordsworth was interested only in the practice of poetry and he considered only the impact of imagination on poetry; Coleridge on the other hand, is interested in the theory of imagination. He is the first critic to study the nature of imagination and examine its role in creative activity. Secondly, while Wordsworth uses Fancy and Imagination almost as synonyms, Coleridge is the first critic to distinguish between them and define their respective roles. Thirdly, Wordsworth does not distinguish between primary and secondary imagination. Coleridge’s treatment of the subject is, on the whole, characterized by greater depth, penetration and philosophical subtlety. It is his unique contribution to literary theory." END QUOTE

Now to my punch line. As soon as I reflected on what light the above discussion sheds on JA's reference to imagination and fancy in Letter 91, I realized that this was directly connected to the Emma subtext of Letter 91 which I previously outlined in my above-linked post yesterday.

I.e., JA is telling CEA, in code, to use her imagination to deduce the hidden coherent meaning of the apparently random jumble of incoherent images that JA has presented. And that's where Miss Bates comes into play. Miss Bates's dialog initially appears to be nothing more than a random jumble of incoherent images, if you take her, as Emma does, as a scatterbrained motormouth. I.e., using Coleridge's terminology, Emma sees Miss Bates's speech as 100% the product of fancy. However, if one takes Miss Bates, as I do, as a veiled self-portrait by JA, and if one searches for the hidden meaning in her words, it turns out to be extremely coherent and eloquent, and the essence of creative imagination, if one reads Miss Bates as being a Joycean poet rather than a scatterbrained motormouth.

So thanks again, Diana, for bringing this issue to the fore, it has borne rich fruit for me.

Cheers, ARNIE

 @JaneAustenCode on Twitter