(& scroll down to read my literary sleuthing posts)
Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Monday, November 15, 2010

The possibility of false linings to the drawers....

"At last, however, by touching a secret spring, an inner compartment will open -- a roll of paper appears -- you seize it -- it contains many sheets of manuscript -- you hasten with the precious TREASURE into your own chamber, but scarcely have you been able to decipher....Well read in the art of CONCEALING A TREASURE, the possibility of false linings to the drawers did not escape her, and she felt round each with anxious acuteness in vain."

Anticipating that Elissa Schiff might read the above passage (which I quoted in my post about Blackbeard) in a risque light, after she did the same thing with another JA passage last week, I wrote to her as follows:

I will save you the trouble of pointing out what I know you would have noticed as soon as you read the above text from NA, and which I have known about for over three years, which is that these excerpts, and a number of others in NA, are not only about buried treasure in the sandy beaches of the West Indies, it's also about "treasures" of a much more personal (and sensitive) kind, the kind which are best concealed in "the false linings of (ladies's) drawers"!

If I could have given two talks to the Portland AGM, the above would have been part of my second presentation, about the sexual awakening of Catherine Morland while at the Abbey.

Later on, I responded to Nancy Mayer on the same subject as follows:

"While ladies' undergarments -- drawers-- were being sold from at least 1805..."

My point exactly--I had looked into this a couple of years ago, and i found then that the existence of ladies' drawers before JA's novels were published (and also some of JA's letters which also refer in a curious way to "drawers") was indisputable.

"...they were not at all a garment customarily worn."

To which I say, so what? The point is that JA, punster that she was, surely knew the word and its "lingerical" meaning that would provide a very fertile basis for a double meaning pun.

"They did have a waist band and a seat but didn't have a crotch. items which looked like legs of a a pair of trousers tied to the thigh were briefly popular for adults. They remained a part of a child's wardrobe for a longer period."

If memory serves me right, the exhibit of prints of Regency Era caricatures at the recently concluded JASNA AGM included a couple of VERY risqué images of ladies of the night in extremely exposed postures wearing those very same same garments you described.

"It wasn't until long after Jane Austen's death that ladies began to consider drawers a necessary part of their wardrobe. Jane Austen might have seen pictures of drawers and even could have had a pair-- but I doubt it."

Again, I think you are wrong, we know that JA was VERY interested, e.g., in Cruikshank's caricatures, particularly the two caricatures of the Prince Regent shown in these two articles by Colleen Sheehan about "the Prince of Whales":

"She would not have made a joke with a double entendre about them."

So you say, begging the question.

Cheers, ARNIE

No comments: