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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Saturday, November 13, 2010

There are secrets in ALL families, you know.....

Christy Somer made some interesting comments (quoted below) in Janeites, to which I responded as follows:

"And with all due respect to Arnie's interesting and enthusiastically 'shadowy' influences ~~:-), I may find myself sometimes reacting with a rather hasty-closure response when even considering the influences of those real-life horrific histories which existed and would have been read about and shared, familiarly, during JA's time-line.

And this is because of my own inner resistance to even considering major secrets (Arnie's Shadow-Stories and other speculations) being kept from Cassandra and the immediate family."

You and I provide an interesting counterpoint, as for you the "trump card" is always honesty with family, and for me it is JA's strong coherent feminism.

I know it won't change your mind, but I must point out to you three pieces of evidence which suggest that there were some major secrets which JA did not share with everyone in her family of origin.

First we have the (to me) indisputable evidence that The History of England is a savage satire of Mrs. Austen (Queen Elizabeth) in which both JA AND CEA were clearly full participants. And my research shows that JA never moved away from that attitude toward her mother. So that is one very large and very unpleasant family secret that JA did not share with everyone in her family, as surely her mother and father were not included in the "in group" on that theme!

And second we have Mr. Weston's comment which I used as my subject line. I suggest to you that Emma is filled with Austen family secrets, and so Mr. Weston's (Austen's) comments are there for a reason. misunderstand me if you think I think JA kept all of her shadow stories secret from CEA. Most important, I believe that JA DID FULLY share with CEA the anti-parody of death in childbirth in Northanger Abbey. As you heard me say in Portland, JA and CEA experienced, first hand, the horrors of death in childbirth in their own family. Elizabeth Knight died after bearing her ELEVENTH child. And six years after JA's death, Frank Austen's first wife died after bearing HER eleventh child.

And Diana, THAT is the reason why Mrs. Moreland is lucky to have "only ten".

Cheers, ARNIE

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