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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Quiz About Jane Austen’s Veiled (and heretofore totally unsuspected) Allusion in one of her Novels to a Famous Literary Work (By An Author Known only for this Work)

Yesterday, I wrote the following: “…thanks to you, Anielka, yesterday I revisited my own prior research about Satan/Devil/Lucifer in Jane Austen's fiction, and I came upon yet another literary allusion in regard to that infernal matrix (literally) hiding in plain sight in one of her novel, an allusion which I had never detected before (nor, as far as I can tell, has any Austen scholar). This allusion to the Fallen Angel, like the Lucy Ferrars wordplay, is not Biblical (or Miltonic). But it goes to the heart of the Austen novel in which that allusion occurs, and it is a beautiful thing, hiding in plain sight like all of JA's best allusions.”

I haven’t finished researching this latest discovery to my full satisfaction as of yet, but I decided to bring this allusion forward today anyway, so here goes.

I will give you five hints. If anyone who’s read JA’s novels really pays attention, you should be able to get the answer from those hints, as  I’ve already let the cat halfway out of the bag just by telling you that the prior work of literature (the “Source”) relates in an obvious way to Satan/Devil/Lucifer.  The following hints will then narrow your search to the one and only answer, which will either occur to you on the spot (if you have a good memory for lines from JA’s novels), or which you will be able to very quickly spot in the text of the relevant Austen novel, as to which my clues will tell you exactly where to look:

ONE: Jane Austen sneaked the exact title of the Source into the text of the novel in which she alluded to the Source. And, what’s more, she placed that title at the most thematic point possible, to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was not a coincidence. That is of course, exactly what JA did with her sneaking “as you like. It” into Mrs. Elton’s pastoral speech in Emma.

TWO: Jane Austen also mentioned the exact title of the Source, and in a favorable light, in a letter she wrote precisely when she had just finished writing that same novel, even though her letter does not connect the Source to that novel.

THREE: The Source has a character, Mr. X, who is an abusive, wife-beating, alcoholic husband, whose favorite domestic weapon against his victimized wife, Mrs. X, is a strap.

FOUR: The Source has a character Mrs. Y who disrespects a male relative authority figure, and as a direct result is exiled for a short period of time from her life of relative ease in Mr. Y’s home to a life of privation in the home of the abusive Mr. X, which teaches her to value her life of ease with Mr. Y when she is suddenly returned to his home.

FIVE: The author of the Source is only known today for having written the Source.

The Austen novel should be clear from those last two clues, now see if you can find the answer to the first two in either that novel, or the letter coinciding with its publication. Then you’ll see that Clue Five is correct, too.

As usual, I will post the answer tomorrow by Noon EST unless someone gets the answer first, and I’ll also briefly explain why I find this allusion particularly significant.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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