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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Codes of Jane Austen's Letter 57

Anielka Briggs has just written a post to the various Austen online discussion groups about the coded meanings in JA’s Letter 57 dated Oct. 7-9, 1808, which requires me to clarify some history and context regarding same. Her post began as follows: “The whole letter the quote about dyers is taken from is a series of jokes. What no-one seems to have realise two years ago, more than five years ago, or 140 years ago is that no-one had died so no mourning was really being prepared….” and then went into some specific interpretations of Letter 57.

And here is the message I just sent to those groups in reply to her post:


You are aware that I have been very scrupulous about publicly acknowledging that it was less than 24 hours AFTER I privately revealed to you, on October 26-27, 2007, my long-previous discovery of the main idea of the shadow story of Emma [ i.e., that the secretly pregnant Jane Fairfax secretly gave her baby to Mrs. Weston], that you, in turn, made the brilliant and virtually immediate discovery of the name Anna Weston ==> Ann Awe-ston ==> Anna Austen. For 24 hours, you gave me clues and an opportunity to guess this answer, but I was unable to see the transformation, and you had to tell me.

It is important, therefore, in the same vein, to recall some history HERE in regard to my discovery of coded meanings of JA's Letter 57 dated Oct. 7-9, 1808, and your now disclosing this discovery (of mine) to these various groups.

You will recall, I am sure, that beginning on Nov. 1, 2007--[which, for students of the little ironies of history, was within 11 months of being 200 years after Letter 57 was written, and which also was only 5 days AFTER you saw “Ann Aweston” and brought it to my attention]--and then in a series of four or five emails from me to you running until Nov. 6, 2007, I repeatedly urged you, that you should take a very close look at Letter 57, because it contained some really interesting coded references.

In response to my prompting, that was when you, being, as we all know who read along in these groups, a very clever elf, were finally able to realize that “Mr. JA's estimation” was a pun, which was one of the coded meanings in Letter 57 that I had discovered the previous week.

That's the precise context in which I then immediately wrote to you on November 6, 2007, in reply:

"Good for you that you (unlike Le Faye) realized Mr. Floor is not a real person! Is it only a clever joke? I don’t think so. I did take it as a marker that tells the clever reader that this letter is coded in general, and that is when I found the REAL coded messages in the letter. I bet you have not seen them yet…. ;)"

And then our correspondence, for the remainder of its short progression, first focused on one other coded section of Letter 57, which I had identified as particularly significant, and then quickly veered into other topics far afield from Letter 57….

So when you wrote the following today….

“The whole letter the quote about dyers is taken from is a series of jokes. What no-one seems to have realise two years ago, more than five years ago, or 140 years ago is that no-one had died so no mourning was really being prepared.”

…First, it would have been very nice if you had pointed out that it was ME to whom you were so obliquely referring, when you mention the “no-one” who two years ago (when you and I last corresponded) and five years ago (when, as I told you then, and have often stated publicly in these groups, I had my general epiphany about the pervasiveness and coherence of the shadow stories in all of JA’s novels) to as having been the one to pointed out to you that Letter 57 was a kind of epistolary Rosetta Stone.

Now, as to the substance of what you wrote this morning, all I have to say for now is that although my attention was focused on other aspects of Letter 57 back in November, 2007, it is NOT true that I did not also eventually realize, long after you and I were no longer in correspondence, that the mourning references in Letter 57 are not what they seem to be. And I have also been well aware of the (to me, to you, and now also to Diana) obvious joke about “divided with a touch” ever since I discovered, and pointed you to, the coded meanings of Letter 57.

But.....what’s more, I DID figure out nearly a year ago, WHY Letter 57 is written as it is, and, now that this topic has been initiated by you in these discussions, I promise that I will not keep the elves, reading along here who care about this subject, long in waiting for a comprehensive explanation of the mysteries which you pointed out this morning, and others of which I believe you are not aware, and all of which you are currently unable to decipher.

Cheers, ARNIE

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