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

Monday, August 13, 2012

Jane Austen's Letter 75, 6 June 1811, Chawton: The Jane Austen Code

In Janeites and Austen-L, Diane wrote: "Again, no word of her writing, even as JA is at the height of her creative powers. "

I responded as follows:

Diane, you're asking the right question, but I disagree with your answer. As I wrote last week....

....Letter 74 was _all_ about her writing, in particular S&S, which she was proofreading over a period of months---but it's all in code--the Jane Austen Code, in which explicitness is rare, but many things are hinted at----as Marianne Dashwood puts it in Chapter 29 of S&S:

"Yes—no—never absolutely. It was every day implied, but never professedly declared. Sometimes I thought it had been—but it never was."

A reader of JA's letters, as well as of her novels, must be prepared to deal with a writer who, for various good reasons, prefers to leave things a little in doubt at all times.

And in my most recent post, about Letter 75....

, I point out that there is a veiled, but very specific allusion (to the Woodston Cottage passage in Northanger Abbey) hidden in JA's "prosaic" description of the visit of Henry Austen and his partner/friend James Tilson to Chawton Cottage.

Diane wrote: "JA alludes to Merchant of Venice when, picking up on C's answer to her (what I took to be her tongue in cheek) question in the last letter about which Plumtree sister was eldest: "Your answer about the Miss Plumtrees, proves you as fine a Daniel as ever Portia was;-for I maintained Emma to be the eldest."

And it's no coincidence that JA alludes to Shakespeare overtly in Letter 75, after making Shakespeare the main subtextual theme of Letter 74, written only a week earlier, as per the second post linked above.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

No comments: