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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jane Austen's Ode to Pity Covertly Alludes to Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus: Imagination Verified Experimentally

The subconscious works in mysterious and serendipitous ways, and this post is a perfect example.

Three days ago, I posted about the covert allusion to Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus that I spotted in Jane Austen's juvenilia poem Ode To Pity:

Here's how I argued my claim:

"Now, it's not just the reference to Philomel which leads me to this opinion, because I acknowledge that merely reciting the name Philomel would not by itself prove that JA meant to invoke all the horror of the Ovidian tale. What has made me so certain of JA's darker meaning is that this reference is embedded in a poetic context in Ode To Pity with a great deal of jarring, almost grotesque clanging of metaphors, which most decidedly point in a dark but mysterious direction."

I then went on to outline the mature Jane Austen's veiled and complex allusion to Titus Andronicus in Mansfield Park.

Then...just this morning, I posted about Jane Austen's kinship with Einstein and Darwin, united in their genius-level imaginative faculties, to which their vast stores of knowledge were subordinated:

In my said post, I also quoted from Darwin's step-grandmother, Mrs. Pole, whose opinion of Mansfield Park included praise for Jane Austen's being "experimentally acquainted" with the humans whom she observed "in the wild" with such precision and insight.

Now I will explain how my subconscious imagination led me to a wonderful crossing of streams from these two recent posts. This afternoon, while enjoying watching my favorite sports team, the Miami Heat, outlast the New York Knicks on national TV, I found myself drawn back to the text of Titus Andronicus, a text I have not studied as closely as many other Shakespeare plays, led on by the nagging intuition there had to be more evidence lurking in the play text which would provide further evidence of my recent claims about Jane Austen's covert allusions to Titus Andronicus, if only I would take the time to make the text my own by repeated close readings.

Somehow, I just _knew_, if I primed the pump, my imagination would lead me to some dramatic discovery. And it didn't take long.

When I got up to a certain scene in Titus Andronicus, suddenly I realized that I had found the mother lode, I was reading Jane Austen's primary allusive source for her juvenilia Ode to Pity. Can you guess which scene it is?

If you are still with me and don't want to read through all of Titus Andronicus looking for it, or would like to but are not sure how to go about it, never fear--- I've got a big hint, which I am giving to you now because it also constitutes what I believe is _conclusive_ experimental verification that the _sixteen_ year old Jane Austen was alluding to that particular scene in Titus Andronicus when she wrote her Ode to Pity.

Here's the clue:

shed pale groves philomel melancholy sweet lovely moon heap pitiful pity

These are eleven key words from Jane Austen's Ode to Pity, including the dedication and title.

I suggest you submit it to my friend Mr. Google, and _he_ will tell you which scene from Titus Andronicus _also_ contains _all_ of those words. It will be easy to spot, trust me.

Read that scene carefully, and I shall return within the next day to sketch out the significance of Jane Austen's _shocking_ allusion to Shakespeare's most disturbing play, as that allusion is further illuminated by a close reading of that scene in relation to her Ode to Pity.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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