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

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jane Austen's Intricately Falling Dominoes, Especially in Pride and Prejudice




In followup to my short post about Jane Austen’s hidden calendars which immediately precedes this post, I wish to segue to a brief excursus on how that relates to the overall plot structure of Jane Austen’s novels.

The simplest and most obvious explanation for the extreme attention to detail about calendars and precise time periods in Jane Austen’s novels is simply that, In addition to all of her numerous genius level gifts, JA was also a meticulous craftsman who wanted everything in her complex multi-character plots to work properly-- she was an extraordinarily creative and meticulous puzzle constructor. 

Mozart paid extraordinary Attention to musicological details in his music, musicological subtleties  that would not be noticed or understood  by casual listeners. It's the same with Jane Austen.

 JA was a master at creating interlocking character structure, of a kind that would very very rarely occur randomly in real life, and Pride and Prejudice would be the perfect example of this. Among the many excellent reasons for its enduring, indeed exploding, popularity, is its unbelievably well structured sequence of events, which fall with a breathtakingly  beautiful precision and intricacy, reminding me very much of late Mozart.  All handiwork is concealed, everything appears to occur in a casual unplanned way, when actually the falling of a tightly interlocked network of plot dominoes is incredibly well time and cascading.

I found an extraordinary YouTube of one of these domino sequences which in 1 minute 37 seconds, conveys my sense of what happens in the unfolding of the story of Pride and Prejudice:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhX1bqXO_3A

On a billiards table, I have no idea how much ingenuity and brilliance is required in order to create the amazing result we see in that video, but I know that in a novel, this sort of intricate but seamless flow must be the result of genius level inspiration, and genius level redaction into more and more perfect structure over a period of years of loving revision.

And the best part of this interlocked structure is the way the karma of all the characters interrelates between them, where one characters comeuppance is the others epiphany, and often those karmas can be  flipped 180 degrees between two characters, depending on the readers assumptions.

I cannot recall reading a really beautiful analysis of that falling domino structure in Pride and Prejudice, but perhaps there's a pretty good one out there I am just not recalling. If not, I will have to give that a shot in my book.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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