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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Friday, October 1, 2010

Exceedingly puzzling different accounts

" Conversely, my readings of Jane Austen bring the uniquely gifted and purely inwardly-questioning artist, philosopher, and keen observer of human nature much more gently into into my sphere of understanding."


I must repeat my mantra--I am NOT denying the reality of your Jane Austen, as described above by you --I am saying that you are describing Jane Austen the author of the overt stories of her novels.

Just because I spend most of my energy demostrating the reality of Jane Austen author of the SHADOW stories of her novels, that does NOT mean in any way that I am attempting to invalidate the overt stories. Quite the contrary--I believe she put BOTH stories out there and left it to her readers to each decide what is what.

And she was constantly reminding her readers of this decision. So, e.g., when Elizabeth and Darcy have the following conversation, it is ALSO JA slyly dramatizing the decision faced by the reader who sees both stories and tries to figure out what they mean, taken together. So just imagine that Darcy represents the novel Pride and Prejudice itself!--That makes him, in this allegorical interpretation of this scene, a TALKING book!] :

"What think you of BOOKS?" said he, SMILING. [That is JA smiling, because she has just given us a hint that she is about to talk about P&P!]

"Books -- Oh! no. I AM SURE WE NEVER READ THE SAME, OR NOT WITH THE SAME FEELINGS." [And isn't that you and me, Christy? I claim that JA predicted exactly the debate we are having with each other 200 years later!]

"I am sorry you think so; but if that be the case, there can at least be no want of subject. We may compare our different opinions." [Ditto as to the above]

"No -- I cannot talk of books in a ballroom; my head is always full of something else."

"The present always occupies you in such scenes -- does it?" said he, with a look of doubt.

"Yes, always," she replied, without knowing what she said, for her thoughts had wandered far from the subject, as soon afterwards appeared by her suddenly exclaiming, "I remember hearing you once say, Mr. Darcy, that you hardly ever forgave, that your resentment once created was unappeasable. You are very cautious, I suppose, as to its BEING CREATED." [Like a book is created]

"I am," said he, with a firm voice.

"And never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?" [And that is the question we both must answer, in terms of how we decide what is real and what isn't]

"I hope not." [As you and I both hope not to be blinded by prejudice]

"It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion, to be secure of judging properly at first." [Ditto as to the above, for both of us]

"May I ask to what these questions tend?"

"Merely to the illustration of your character," said she, endeavouring to shake off her gravity. "I am trying to make it out." [I.e.,the character of JA's novels]

"And what is your success?"

She shook her head. "I do not get on at all. I HEAR SUCH DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS OF YOU AS PUZZLE ME EXCEEDINGLY." [!!!!]

"I can readily believe," answered he gravely, "that REPORT MAY VARY GREATLY WITH RESPECT TO ME; and I could wish, Miss Bennet, that you were not to sketch my character at the present moment, as there is reason to fear that the performance would reflect no credit on either."

"But if I do not take your likeness now, I may never have another opportunity." [But we have the opportunity to engage in this study as long as it holds our interest]
"I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours," he coldly replied. [Nor would I by any means suspend any pleasure of yours, Christy, and I say that warmly!]


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