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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Two Unrelated Bluebeards of Northanger Abbey

Last week, Christy Somer, who attended the JASNA AGM and who I finally met in person, to our great mutual enjoyment, asked me a question about the two Bluebeards mentioned at the AGM by myself and by Janine Barchas, respectively, and here is the belated response I just wrote to Christy in Austen L and Janeites:


I just realized I never responded to your question to me about the real life Bluebeard who I found overwhelming evidence of in the subtext of Northanger Abbey. His name was Samuel Morland, and my article (and book) will have all sorts of goodies about him and how his life informs the shadow story of Northanger Abbey in extremely important ways.

I also recall that you were able to recollect the name of the Bluebeard family whom Janine Barchas spoke about at the AGM. Responding to you now reminds me that I wanted
to respond to something Ellen wrote last week about Barchas's presentation:

"While the slides were picturesque, and the history of this place as a tourist site as well as originally was of real interest, it seemed to me Barchas’s talk showed us the dangers of over-historicizing."

Dangers of over-historicizing? On the contrary, I find Barchas's work among the MOST interesting scholarship being done about Jane Austen today, she is without question one of the very best historicizers of JA out there. And I will be commenting on Barchas's work as well in my book, because of its amazing parallelism with my own. As I pointed out during her Q&A, we BOTH independently found real life prominent historical English Bluebeards in the subtext of Northanger Abbey, both involving ghosts and dead and imprisoned wives, and awful memorials--which is the kind of convergent evidence which is especially powerful, because it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that JA was doing all of this completely intentionally and thematically.

Cheers, ARNIE

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