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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Monday, October 4, 2010

Answers to Fun Quiz

Here is what I wrote yesterday in regard to the 1809 book by M. Gener translated (or perhaps ghostwritten) by Rev. John Muckersy, which contained a passage in a letter (really, an essay) about friendship, that described people who took perverse pleasure in deceiving others:

"So, now i will add two hints to the answers of Q1 and Q2-- first additional hint: the quoted passage points to ONE of the Crawfords in particular, and second additional hint: I initially was led to this passage because of a very unusual phrase that one of the Crawfords speaks aloud in MP which EXACTLY repeats a very unusual phrase that appears elsewhere in that same letter on "Friendship" by M. Gener aka Rev. John Muckersy that I quoted from. But then, once I was reading that letter, that was when I saw the discussion in the quoted passage which points unmistakably to words which the other Crawford speaks."

Here are my answers. The character in MP I claim is closest to Gener's description of the deceiver is Henry Crawford, because only in his case, and not in the case of Wickham, Frank C, Willoughby, and Cousin Elliot, do we have the following personal "confession" to his sister Mary as to his motivation in wooing Fanny:

“......that would be all recreation and indulgence, without the wholesome alloy of labour, and I do not like to eat the bread of idleness. No, my plan is to make Fanny Price in love with me.” “Fanny Price! Nonsense! No, no. You ought to be satisfied with her two cousins.” “But I cannot be satisfied without Fanny Price, without making a small hole in Fanny Price’s heart...."

Henry Crawford is the very prototype of the false friend that M. Gener so sharply delineates in his letter on friendship. I will show you how I found Gener's book in the first place. Here is the passage in MP which I Googled, and which led me to M. Gener's book. It is the moment right after Tom Bertram has left Mansfield Park for the races, and so Mary Crawford started to look at Edmund for the first time:

Chapter 6: The soup would be sent round in a most spiritless manner, wine drank without any smiles or agreeable trifling, and the venison cut up without supplying one pleasant anecdote of any former haunch, or a single entertaining story, ABOUT 'MY FRIEND SUCH A ONE.'

I recognized immediately that this was a clue, a marker or tag that was very likely pointing to a published source that JA had read, and which she considered a kind of "gloss" on action in her novel:

And here is the passage in M. Gener's letter on friendship to which I claim JA pointed:

"Friendship, purely disinterested, is that only which deserves the name. In the common intercourse of the world, indeed, we call every man of our acquaintance, our friend, who is not our enemy. If a man speak well of us in our absence, or take a little trouble in promoting our interests, he is immediately our friend. WE SAY 'MY FRIEND SUCH A ONE," WHEN WE SPEAK OF HIM, when we speak of him, and when we write to him he is our "dear and worthy friend." A cynic might say that selfishness is the universal character of mankind, since trivial acts of kindness are so noted. But in this commerce of courtesy and affection, no man is deceived, and we may consider it more as an excess of politeness, than an error of the heart. Still there is much benevolence in the world; and when I speak to a young man, I shall be trusted when I say, that we have particular as well as general friends. Of what cast and complexion should these be? Are we to give the reins to our uncorrected feelings when we select them? Do we seek for them in Romance or in the world? Or, if you indulge me in one question more, Are we to mix no prudence with the first dictates of the heart, in such a choice?"

We may as well have Henry Crawford's portrait hanging next to that passage, he is the quintessence of the deceiving sociopath whom Gener described in that letter.

Cheers, ARNIE

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