<![CDATA[JASNA Oregon & SW Washington Region - Home]]>Wed, 25 Nov 2015 19:41:15 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Readings of 'The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen' from local author and regional member]]>Wed, 25 Nov 2015 23:58:12 GMThttp://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/readings-of-the-marriage-of-miss-jane-austen-from-local-author-and-regional-memberBook cover of 'The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen'
Collins Hemingway, a member of our local JASNA region and author of several books, will be giving a book reading of his novel, The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, at 2 p.m.Saturday, December 5, at the 23rd and Thurman branch of the Multnomah County Library. Collins will also be giving another reading on Sunday, December 6, at the Wilsonville Library.
The novel reimagines the largely blank period of Austen’s life, 1802-1809, to ask how marriage might have changed her as a person and writer. It is not light fare but a serious look at life for women in the early 1800s. 

You can read more about the book, and enjoy extras like podcasts and book reviews, on the book's website, ​http://austenmarriage.com.

<![CDATA[Background info and discussion questions for Nov. 8 reading group meeting]]>Tue, 27 Oct 2015 00:53:02 GMThttp://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/background-info-and-discussion-questions-for-nov-8-reading-group-meetingThe theme for the upcoming reading discussion group, which will take place on November 8, is "Jane Austen's Comments to Women." Pauline Beard and Deb Rossi will be our discussion leaders, and below is information that Pauline would like us to read before our meeting on November 8.

Cover of
~ A woman especially if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can. ~
Dear Janeites,  
The tiny book Jane Austen Speaks to Women (Edith Lank, 2000) that inspired this month’s readings contains many quotations from the novels and letters of Jane Austen, sometimes advice as above, so Deb and I wondered what other “advice” books were in vogue during Austen’s time.

​What was Austen reading when she writes the above? What inspired the spirited reply of Elizabeth to Mr. Collins’ proposal: “Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart” (Chapter 19). Various commentators have pointed out the echo from Mary Wollstonecraft’s: A Vindication of the Rights of Women Chapter 5: “ Speak to them the language of truth and soberness, and away with the lullaby strains of condescending endearment! Let them be taught to respect themselves as rational creatures, and not led to have a passion for their own insipid persons” (emphasis added). Thus Deb and I thought it would be interesting to look at the Vindication (only pieces from Chapter Five and Ten you’ll be glad to hear) to find other resonances with Austen’s lines about women…. Then after reading Susan Ford’s insightful essay on Fordyce’s Sermons (see Lydia’s reaction to Mr. Collins choosing that edifying treatise… end of Chapter 24…), we asked ourselves:

**“What do these works and Austen speaking to women mean for men and women in the 21st century?” **

Attached are Chapters 5 and 10 from Wollstonecraft [scroll down to view or download in PDF format], and here is the link to Susan Allen’s essay: http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol34no1/ford.html, and then some prompts to aid in our discussion that we hope to arrange first in small groups then coming back to the large group… a system that has worked very well in the past. 

Some points to ponder (as much or as little depending on time of course).

1) Answer the question above. **

2) Within the small discussion group (we will divide up the large group as smoothly as possible), you will be asked for two quotations from Austen’s works or the letters to aid in the discussion focusing on categories such as Marriage. Money. Old Age. Courtship. Mothers… these categories might help focus the discussion. You won’t know the category assigned to your group until the very moment… just to keep things exciting!

Finally, read the 1950s so-called advice sheet (a fake?) and see how far men and women have come… or not! http://www.snopes.com/history/document/goodwife.asp. For fun, check back to Wollstonecraft’s last paragraph in Chapter 5 in response to Dr. Fordyce…
Deb and I look forward to the discussion! Sunday November 8.

<![CDATA[RSVP for Nov. 8 Reading Discussion Group]]>Sat, 24 Oct 2015 18:37:17 GMThttp://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/rsvp-for-nov-8-reading-discussion-groupOur November meeting will be held on Sunday, November 8, at 1:00 pm at the Hillsboro Main Library. Please R.S.V.P. to host Marva and let her know if you can bring a treat. Contact us if you need to get in touch with the host.

The reading group theme for November 8 will be "Jane Austen’s Comments to Women," and we will also be selecting themes for the 2016 reading group meetings.
<![CDATA[Article in The Guardian on 'S&S' and Austen's anonymity]]>Mon, 19 Oct 2015 15:00:01 GMThttp://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/article-in-the-guardian-on-ss-and-austens-anonymityHere's an interesting article from The Guardian, forwarded by regional member Pauline Beard. It's an article written by Elena Ferrante, author of the "Neapolitan" series, all about her love of Sense & Sensibility and the issue of Austen's anonymity when publishing her novels during her lifetime.

The direct link to the article is here at http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/16/sense-and-sensibility-jane-austen-elena-ferrante-anonymity, or click the screenshot below.
<![CDATA[New photos of AGM 2015 posted on Facebook album]]>Sun, 18 Oct 2015 15:53:07 GMThttp://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/new-photos-of-agm-2015-posted-on-facebook-albumThe JASNA 2015 AGM, "Living in Jane Austen's World," took place October 9-11, 2015, in Louisville, Kentucky. Regional member and treasurer Marva Wiebe has sent along a treasure trove of photos taken during her time at the AGM, available to view in an album on the region's Facebook page.

If you have photos to add/delete/update, please contact regional webmaster Jennifer Snoek-Brown.
Screenshot of Facebook album for JASNA 2015 AGM
Screenshot of Facebook album for JASNA 2015 AGM. On the region's Facebook page, click the link on the top menu for Photos, then click the link for Albums to view the entire Facebook album.
<![CDATA[Back issues of 'Persuasions' donated to region]]>Fri, 18 Sep 2015 15:00:02 GMThttp://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/back-issues-of-persuasions-donated-to-regionAt our September meeting, Pat Fulbright shared news that Mary Cammann, a longtime member of our regional chapter, donated back issues of Persuasions, JASNA's annual peer-reviewed journal, for members to enjoy. Some of the older issues look more like newsletters! 

So that all members can enjoy the archives, members are encouraged to share and borrow issues at regional meetings and events. So be on the lookout at the next meeting to borrow (or bring back?) a past copy of Persuasions -- and enjoy a trip down Jane Austen memory lane!
<![CDATA[Sources Used in Deborah Eley's Presentation 2015]]>Wed, 16 Sep 2015 01:00:07 GMThttp://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/sources-used-in-deborah-eleys-presentation-2015Deborah Eley referenced several sources during her presentation about "women's work" during Jane Austen's time, at last weekend's reading group discussion event. Below are the titles and links to the sources she used.

Adkins, Roy & Lesley, Jane Austen's England

Boyle, Laura, "Jane Austen's Women and Their Creative Skills," Jane Austen Centre

Forest, Jennifer, Jane Austen's Sewing Box

Fullerton, Susannah, Celebrating Pride and Prejudice:  200 Years of Jane Austen's Masterpiece

Jones, Susan, "Thread-cases, Pin-cushions, and Card-racks:  Women's Work in the City of Jane Austen's Persuasion," Persuasions On-line Vol. 25, No. 1 (Winter, 2004)

Sullivan, Margaret C., The Jane Austen Handbook, A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World

Wass, Ann Buermann, "Sat at Work:  Regency Women and Their Needle" pp. 14-16, Jane Austen Knits, Fall 2012

<![CDATA[RSVP for Sept. 13 reading group meeting]]>Fri, 04 Sep 2015 16:00:08 GMThttp://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/rsvp-for-sept-13-reading-group-meetingHello JASNA members,

A reminder that our next Reading group meeting is coming up on Sunday, September 13th, at 1:00 PM. As I said in a previous email, our meeting venue has been changed, as Stephanie Vardavos is not able to host. Instead, Arnie Perlstein has graciously agreed to step in and host.

Please call or email your RSVP and let Arnie know if you will be bringing something for the table. We will be meeting in his garden if the weather is fine. We will hold elections for our next Regional Coordinator first (the only nominee so far is Margaret Christmann) and then discuss "Living in Jane Austen's World" led by Debbie Eley and Margaret Christmann. 

See my email for specific contact info and directions.

Kim Higgins
Regional Coordinator of the Jane Austen Society of North America,
Oregon/ SW Washington Region
<![CDATA[Reading group letters | Dear Miss Emma]]>Thu, 03 Sep 2015 23:18:12 GMThttp://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/reading-group-letters-dear-miss-emmaThe Set Up:
As a romance writer, I thought it would be fun to write a letter to Emma Woodhouse asking her for advice with my novel since she is a matchmaker with a very fanciful imagination. My novel is a paranormal contemporary time travel romance back into Regency England. One of the challenges was making it understood by Emma so that she could assist me.  Here is the letter I crafted.

The Letter:

My Dear Emma,

I have long admired your expertise in matchmaking. As your dear friend at Donwell Abbey, you confided to me your matchmaking schemes before your marriage to Mr. Knightly. I am astonished at your cleverness. You boasted to me of your matchmaking skills and that they are a matter of joy to you.  I realize that you are naturally gifted in conjuring love matches. A true imaginist as the novelist, Jane Austen, would say. You have orchestrated so many of them beginning with the marriage of your former governess, Miss Taylor to Mr. Weston.

I know that your matchmaking is more than fortune telling or a lucky guess. Perhaps you can divulge your talent. When we sat together after the picnic at Box Hill, I was overcome by your excellent matchmaking plans. Now I am burning with impatience to know the secrets to your success. You see, I have fancied myself writing a novel. Remember how fun it was discussing the adventures of Evelina by the author, Miss Burney? How our hearts pounded in terror at The Mysteries of Udolpho by Mrs. Radcliffe!

With high spirits, I have begun my own matchmaking novel with Gothic overtones, but alas, I am vexed at my efforts and require your assistance. You have excellent tastes! And a most romantic imagination! My heroine, Serena, has such a sweet countenance but she is also an ambitious bluestocking. What virtues shall I give her? My hero, Myles, is a bewitching bachelor. A handsome man but a bit of rake. What manners shall I give him?

During the high point of my tale, my characters attend a masquerade ball with haunting music 
where gossip is the game and calling cards the prize. During a lull in the dancing, Serena escapes to the library and becomes lost in the great castle. Myles finds her whereupon they are chased through the dark passages by villainous apparitions. 

Although my hero and heroine have sensible feelings towards each other, I need them to develop a tenderness for each other and reach a finer understanding so that they may have their own happy ending and be united in wedlock. You are skilled with observing every look and word which betrays the heart. What contrivances shall I use for them to cherish a most tender affection for each other?

Help me to imagine their courtship. Where should the marriage proposal take place? Should it be prefaced by a letter or a poem?  Or, foreshadowed by a charade or some other word play? What clues shall I provide for my characters to discover a delicacy of feeling?

Should the engagement be long or short? What about the wedding? Should it be a fashionable one during the morning in a church? Or, a very private one at night, perhaps in a drawing room by means of a special license?  Or, a country wedding? Or perhaps something scandalous, like an elopement to Gretna Green?

I beg of you, please, be sincere with me. Persuade me of the right way to fasten an arrangement of the heart. I await your quick discernment.

Yours ever,
Miss Vonnie Alto
<![CDATA[A literary quiz for a lackadaisical summer's day... with a bombshell answer!]]>Fri, 14 Aug 2015 00:01:02 GMThttp://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/a-literary-quiz-for-a-lackadaisical-summers-day-with-a-bombshell-answer
This literary quiz comes from our own Arnie Perlstein and was originally published on his website, Sharp Elves Society, at http://sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com/, and his Twitter page at https://twitter.com/JaneAustenCode 

Scroll down the post for the quiz -- and Arnie's answers!

The quiz

OK, I am thinking about a novel which fits all of the following parameters:

ONE: It was published more than two hundred years ago.

TWO: In its original form, it was epistolary.

THREE: It is universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest novels ever written, along with several other novels written by the same author.

FOUR: Its author is widely considered to have been a highly influential literary innovator, who has cast a very long shadow over the history of the novel, and who has provided grist for the mill of hundreds of scholarly articles, books, and dissertations.

FIVE: In the first half of the novel, the heroine is nearly forced by her family to marry an odious, repulsive man, but she is fortunate to avoid that fate.

SIX: The novel’s plot includes at least one attempted sexual seduction by a hardened rake.

SEVEN: There is a scene relatively early in the novel when the speed and evenness of a man’s hand writing of letters, and the rapidity of flow of ideas to a man’s pen, are both explicitly discussed, in verbiage that is laden with clever and suggestive sexual innuendo.

EIGHT: There is a scene when the taking of pains or trouble to attain mastery of a skill by a man who has always had things his way in life is explicitly discussed, in verbiage that also is laden with clever and suggestive sexual innuendo.

NINE: The heroine is referred to in various ways as having bewitched a leading male character.

TEN: The heroine is the favorite of a male ancestor, whose partiality for her is resented within the family.

ELEVEN: There is a war of words between the man and the woman for a goodly portion of the novel.

What is the title of the novel, and who is the author?

As seems to have mysteriously been the case in my previous literary quizzes, there may just turn out to be two novels which meet all the listed criteria--Good luck in discovering both!

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

The answers

Answer to my latest quiz: "fingering" Darcy & Lovelace as darkly Machiavellian "twins"

Cutting right to the chase:  I expected that the two correct answers to my quiz (Clarissa by Richardson & Pride & Prejudice by Austen) would occur to anyone familiar with 18th-19th century English novels. I’ll quickly run through all the parallels between Clarissa and P&P except the two most extraordinary ones, which I save for last, and which, I assure you, justify the “unbecoming conjunction” in my Subject Line:

ONE: It was published more than two hundred years ago:  Clarissa (1748) &Pride & Prejudice (1813)

TWO: In its original form, it was epistolary:  Clarissa was originally epistolary, and remained so. P&P was originally First Impressions, an epistolary manuscript no longer in existence.

THREE: It is universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest novels ever written, along with several other novels written by the same author.  Obviously the case with both of these novels.

FOUR: Its author is widely considered to have been a highly influential literary innovator, who has cast a very long shadow over the history of the novel, and who has provided grist for the mill of hundreds of scholarly articles, books, and dissertations: Again, obviously….

FIVE: In the first half of the novel, the heroine is nearly forced by her family to marry an odious, repulsive man, but she is fortunate to avoid that fate: Clarissa is pushed by her entire family to marry Mr. Solmes, whereupon she allows Lovelace to take her away. Elizabeth is pushed by her mother to marry Mr. Collins, but her father lets her off the hook.

SIX: The novel’s plot includes at least one attempted sexual seduction by a hardened rake.
Clarissa & Lovelace  AND Georgiana & Wickham.

NINE: The heroine is referred to in various ways as having bewitched a leading male character: Words like “witch”, “bewitched”, “arts and allurements” and “enchantment” are used to derogatorily describe both Clarissa and Elizabeth, as temptresses for Lovelace and Darcy, respectively.

TEN: The heroine is the favorite of a male ancestor, whose partiality for her is resented within the family:
Clarissa’s grandfather dotes on her, which infuriates her siblings, AND Elizabeth’s father dotes on her, which irritates her mother.

ELEVEN: There is a war of words between the man and the woman for a goodly portion of the novel:
Again, obviously….

As to the above, so far, to paraphrase Horatio, there needed no independent scholar come from the weirdness of Portland, Oregon, to inform the literary world that one of the principal allusive sources for Jane Austen’s fiction was the fiction of Samuel Richardson. That’s very old news. However, what has only been a minority report up till now has been the counterintuitive connection between the tragedy of Clarissa and the light, bright, and sparkling comedy of Pride & Prejudice.

Here are two “Blooming” scholarly formulations of the sort of broad, subconscious, not-very-surprising influence which mainstream Austen scholarship has perceived in that regard prior to the present:

Donald A. Bloom, “The Romantic Power of the Witty Heroine” 1994: “…Darcy is a very imposing figure, not only rich and well born, tall and good looking, but highly intelligent and well educated. Even if he is no seducer of the Lovelace sort, nor even a Rochester, she must regard him as a dangerous and intimidating figure. ….Thus, the contest between Elizabeth and Darcy, unlike the usual battle of the sexes plot, begins with her genuine dislike of him….When they are thrown together at Bingley’s house by Jane’s illness, we find that they are not bickering like Beatrice and Benedick, but simply working and thinking at cross purposes, like a comic Lovelace and Clarissa.Darcy has no idea how suspicious Elizabeth is of his arrogant aloofness, while she has no idea how intrigued he is becoming by her ‘fine eyes’…”

Harold Bloom’s intro to Elizabeth Bennet (2009):  “…Austen is the daughter of Richardson….Her inwardness is an ironic revision of Richardson’s extraordinary conversion of English Protestant sensibility into the figure of Clarissa Harlowe, and her own moral and spiritual concerns fuse in the crucial need of her heroines to sustain their individual integrities, a need so intense that it compels them to fall into those errors about life that are necessary for life…In this too they follow, though in a comic register, the pattern of their tragic precursor, the magnificent but sublimely flawed Clarissa Harlowe.
…Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse….are Clarissa Harlowe’s direct descendants….But they belong to the secular age; Clarissa Harlowe is poised upon the threshold that leads from the Protestant religion to a purely secular sainthood.….Doubtless, Austen’s religious ideas were as profound as Samuel Richardson’s were shallow, but Emma and Clarissa are Protestant novels without being in any way religious….What is tragedy in Clarissa becomes serious or moral comedy in P&P and Emma…There is also a transcendent strength to Elizabeth’s will that raises her above that cosmos, in a mode that returns us to Clarissa Harlowe’s transcendence of her society, of Lovelace, and even of everything in herself that is not the will to a self esteem that has also made an accurate estimate of every other will to pride it ever has encountered.…[Eliza’s] wit is Mr. Bennet’s, refined and elaborated, but her will, and her pride in her will, returns us to Clarissa’s Puritan passion to maintain the power of the self to confer esteem, and to accept esteem only in response to its bestowal…”

And that’s pretty much where things stood re connections between Clarissaand Pride & Prejudice till two days ago, as I was reading along in Terry Eagleton’s How to Read Literature, and my gaze was arrested by the following statement:   “In Richardson's Clarissa, we are told that the sexually voracious Lovelace, who is also a great scribbler of letters, ‘has always a pen in his fingers when he retires’. Richardson is surely aware of the double meaning.”

I instantly recognized the parallel between Eagleton’s catch in Clarissa and the witty sexual innuendo that I and a handful of other Janeite scholars have previously noted in the following passage in Chapter 10 of P&P (I’ll explain the ALL CAPS words very shortly):

“…Mr. Darcy was WRITING, and Miss Bingley, seated near him, was watching the progress of his letter and repeatedly calling off his attention by messages to his sister. Mr. Hurst and Mr. Bingley were at piquet, and Mrs. Hurst was observing their game.
Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and HIS COMPANION. The perpetual commendations of the lady, either on his HANDWRITING, or on the EVENNESS of his lines, or on the length of his letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in union with her opinion of each.
"How DELIGHTED Miss Darcy will be to receive such a letter!"
He made no answer.
"You WRITE uncommonly FAST."
"You are mistaken. I write rather slowly."
"How many LETTERS you must have occasion to write in the course of a year! Letters of business, too! How odious I should think them!"
"It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of yours."
"Pray tell your sister that I long to see her."
"I have already told her so once, by your desire."
"I am afraid you do not like your PEN. Let me mend it for you. I mend PENS remarkably well."
"Thank you—but I always mend my own."
"How can you contrive to WRITE so EVEN?"
He was silent.
"Tell your sister I am DELIGHTED to hear of her improvement on the harp; and pray let her know that I am quite in raptures with her beautiful little design for a table, and I think it infinitely superior to Miss Grantley's."
"Will you give me leave to defer your raptures till I write again? At present I have not room to do them justice."
"Oh! it is of no consequence. I shall see her in January. But do you always write such charming long letters to her, Mr. Darcy?"
"They are generally long; but whether always charming it is not for me to determine."
"It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long LETTER with ease, cannot write ill."
"That will not do for a compliment to Darcy, Caroline," cried her brother, "because he does not write with ease. He studies too much for words of four syllables. Do not you, Darcy?"
"My style of WRITING is very different from yours."
"Oh!" cried Miss Bingley, "Charles WRITES in the most careless way imaginable. He leaves out half his words, and blots the rest."
"My IDEAS FLOW so RAPIDLY that I have not time to express them—by which means my LETTERS sometimes convey no ideas at all to my correspondents."
"Your humility, Mr. Bingley," said Elizabeth, "must disarm reproof."

So, imagine my astonished delight when, a moment later, Google brought me to the full quotation that Eagleton had noticed and flagged in Clarissa, in a letter written by BFF Anna Howe to Clarissa about Lovelace, and I read the following:

“[Lovelace] DELIGHTS in WRITING. Whether at Lord M.'s, or at Lady Betty's, or Lady Sarah's, he has always a PEN in his FINGERS when he retires. One of HIS COMPANIONS (confirming his love of WRITING) has told [Mrs. Fortescue], that his thoughts FLOW RAPIDLY to his PEN: And you and I, my dear, have observed, on more occasions than one, that though he WRITES EVEN a fine HAND, he is one of the readiest and quickest of writers.”

I believe my reason for the ALL CAPS words in that P&P passage---about Darcy and Bingley writing letters, and their contrasting handwriting styles---will now be crystal clear. I.e., they’re the very same words which appear in the above, very short passage in Clarissa describing Lovelace’s handwriting style! And the payoff is that both passages, it should also be obvious (and as I described in Parameter SEVEN) are laden with clever sexual innuendo centered on the phallic symbol of a “pen” (use your imagination to decode the rest of the ALL CAPS imagery).

And that would have been more than enough to upend mainstream scholarly interpretations of JA’s writing as not having conscious sexual content. But that’s only the half of it. My Parameter EIGHT… [There is a scene when the taking of pains or trouble to attain mastery of a skill by a man who has always had things his way in life is explicitly discussed, in verbiage that also is laden with clever and suggestive sexual innuendo]…just happens to also apply BOTH to THE VERY NEXT PARAGRAPH in Anna Howe’s letter to Clarissa…

“[Lovelace] must indeed have had early a very docile genius; since a person of his pleasurable turn and active spirit, could never have submitted TO TAKE LONG OR GREAT PAINS in attaining the qualifications he is MASTER of; qualifications so seldom attained by youth of quality and fortune; by such especially of those of either, who, like him, have never known what it was to be controuled.”

…AND ALSO to the repartee between Darcy and Eliza at Rosings in Chapter 31 of P&P, that I have previously identified as sexual repartee:

"Shall we ask your cousin the reason of this?" said Elizabeth, still addressing Colonel Fitzwilliam. "Shall we ask him why a man of sense and education, and who has lived in the world, is ill qualified to recommend himself to strangers?"
"I can answer your question," said Fitzwilliam, "without applying to him. It is because HE WILL NOT GIVE HIMSELF THE TROUBLE."
"I certainly have not the talent which some people possess," said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done."
"My FINGERS," said Elizabeth, "do not move over this instrument in the MASTERLY manner which I see so many women's do. They have not the same force or RAPIDITY, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I will not TAKE THE TROUBLE of practising. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman's of superior execution."
Darcy smiled and said, "You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you can think anything wanting. We neither of us perform to strangers."

I suggest you now take whatever time you need to reread the above quoted passages from Clarissa and P&P a few times, taking special note of the ALL CAPS words. If you invest that short amount of time, you will see why I believe this is a true smoking gun, in terms of proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the sexualized parallels between Richardson’s tragedy and Austen’s comedy are entirely the result of conscious artistry on Jane Austen’s part.

Just think about fingers holding flowing ink-filled pens, and fingers rapidly flying over a responsive set of black and white keys, and how readily that imagery translates into sexual repartee of the most brilliant and sparkling sophistication.  And as if that weren’t enough, speaking of fingers, add into the mix one other passage from Clarissa in a letter from Lovelace to his bro, Belford, that I am now certain was also grokked by Jane Austen:

“I long to know what Miss Howe wrote to her friend, in order to induce her to marry the despicable plotter: the man whose friendship is no credit to any body! the wicked, wicked manThou hadst the two letters in thy hand. Had they been in mine, THE SEAL WOULD HAVE YIELDED TO THE TOUCH OF MY WARM FINGER, [perhaps without the help of the post-office bullet] AND THE FOLDS, AS OTHER PLICATIONS HAVE DONEOPENED OF THEMSELVES TO OBLIGE MY CURIOSITY. A wicked omission, Jack, not contrive to send them down to me, by man and horse!...”

The outrageous sexual imagery in that passage has been noted a half dozen times since James H. Maddox first spotted it in 1982, but I am the first to realize that Jane Austen was already there by 1813 (and probably much earlier), recognizing Richardson’s sly sexual innuendo, and paying it the sincerest homage, by extending it in those two virtuosic passages in P&P! And, for that matter, we also can now see a surprising source for all the suggestive “lock”, “key”, “folds” imagery in the nighttime scenes at the Abbey when Catherine Morland awakens to her own sexuality.

And finally, I cannot imagine a more dramatic confirmation, based on the above, that Jane Austen chose to hide in plain sight an allusion in the character of the supposedly morally upstanding, scrupulously honest Mr. Darcy in P&P to the debauched, Machiavellian character of Lovelace in Clarissa—and as icing on the cake, to flag those two consecutive sexualized passages inClarissa and reinvent them in two separate sexualized passages in P&P!

Now, as to what this all means beyond the above, it will have to suffice for today that I claim this is yet another dark “shade” of Mr. Darcy to add to the twenty I’ve recently collected here…. http://tinyurl.com/kmbl9yq … from posts of mine during the past few years .

This is Jane Austen alerting the sharp elves reading P&P who knew Clarissa well (as she obviously did) that the shadow Darcy is a very dark figure indeed, and much much more like the Protean Lovelace (to borrow Jocelyn Harris’s descriptor) than has ever been dreamt of in the philosophy of conservative and mainstream Austen scholars. Put another way, this is Jane Austen whispering to generations of readers so taken with the sophisticated romance of the overt story of P&P, that they have never been able to “adjust their ideas” to also allow for the possibility of a sophisticated dark cautionary tale about the danger of romantic thinking coexisting right alongside the romance, each in its own parallel fictional universe.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter