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Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Shakespeare Play Hiding in Plain Sight in the SuPERIor Mr. PERRY in Jane Austen's Emma



I finished my immediately preceding post with the following conclusory claim:

"My point being that JA is telling her knowing readers that SHE is none other than the Peri Banou of fiction, so we should all put on the special spectacles she has fixed up for us, take a bite of the scented apples she has laid out for us to eat, and take a magic carpet ride courtesy of Air Austen!

That’s precisely when it will dart through YOU, with the speed of an ARROW, that Jane Austen was the greatest genius in the history of literature, matched only by HER “peri”/Mr. Perry, Shakespeare."

Just to get it off my chest in brief, with a more detailed followup later, I want to explain my last wink at Shakespeare as her literary "peri", as if she had been in artistic communion with the "spirit" of Shakespeare, drawing inspiration (ha ha) from his oeuvre, first deciphering HIS literary codes, and then reinventing them in a novelistic format, and in many ways surpassing her master, flying into the authorial stratosphere on her own fictional magic carpet.

Well...anyone of a punning mindset who saw the words "Peri" and "Shakespeare" in the same sentence should have made the same association that I did 10 days ago, which is what first got me started revisiting my earlier notion of Mr. Perry as an imaginary friend. It's what made me realize that Mr. Perry's name is NOT only based on the Farsi word for "fairy", it is also based on the name of a Shakespeare protagonist.

Can you guess the identity of the TITLE character to whom I am referring?

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It's PERICLES, Prince of Tyre!

Now, Pericles is sorta the illegitimate child among Shakespeare's late Romances, existing in a twilight shadow world, barely noticed by most Shakespeare scholars and devotees alike, nearly invisible beside the bright light of The Tempest, The Winter's Tale and even Cymbeline.

This is in part because Pericles is widely believed among Shakespeare scholars to be only partly the work of Shakespeare himself, which they believe is why it is not even included in the First Folio with the rest of the established Shakespeare canon.

But.....once I drowsily woke up 10 days ago, thinking of Mr. Perry as a pun on Pericles, and then sat bolt upright in bed when I recollected that Pericles, Prince of Tyre begins with a Riddle about father-daughter incest (Mr. Woodhouse remembering Garrick's Riddle, anyone?)!

I knew then that my punning tic had served me well once again, because I have since then excavated a dozen major strands of Jane Austen's complex veiled allusion to Pericles, Prince of Tyre, in Emma (and to a much lesser extent, in Mansfield Park as well).

So...I will followup to this post sometime in the near future with more specifics, but, as I said, having disclosed the Scheherazadean Peri Banou allusion in Emma, I wanted to fill in the rest of the picture, at least in sketch form, to show the  full magnificence of the allusive matrix Jane Austen created in Emma, via the character of Mr. Perry as Mr. Woodhouse's imaginary friend, which encompasses both 1,001 Nights AND Pericles, Prince of Tyre (and probably other, related sources I have not yet glimmered on).

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