Possible dates for P&P
Posted by Linden on May 25, 1998 at 06:06:01:
In response to Luddites and P&P dates, written by Linden on May 23, 1998 at 19:07:14
Hilary wrote on the P&P board:
] I believe that it could have taken place any time between 1795 (when the original draft of "First Impressions" was written) to 1813 (when P&P as we know it was published).
] (This is of course assuming that JA did not intend it to be futuristic or historical. :-))
Hilary is right, but one qualification is needed: in which years during that period was the calendar right for the Netherfield Ball to be on Tuesday 26 November?
I get my information on this from a very useful chart at the back of Margaret Drabble's "Oxford Companion to English Literature" - highly recommended.
The years in question, if we extend Hilary's limits a little bit, were: 1793, 1799, 1805, 1811, 1816.
P&P shows every sign of being plotted with a calendar in one hand: this is why Chapman can be so precise (if, perhaps, not accurate) in his chronology. My hypothesis is that "First Impressions" was calculated in this way, and JA didn't change the chronology when she re-wrote it. Why should she?
This hypothesis is strengthened if we believe that "First Impressions" was originally written in letter form: the fictional letters might well have dates at the top, and a calendar would be an essential tool for continuity, and to stop errors like ten days passing without anyone going to church, or going to church twice in a week.
I suggest that, in the re-write, whether or not the original was in letter form, the dates were "smudged" and left unclear, so that the reader has to look for them and find clues like the Netherfield Ball being described as on a Tuesday in one part of the book (before the ball), and finding out that it was on 26 November much later (when Bingley meets Lizzy at Lambton, eight months later).
Perhaps the calendar that JA held in her hand when she was writing "First Impressions" was the one for 1793, (when she was about 18) or for 1799 (when she was about 24).
PS: Am I getting obsessive about this?
- Not obsessive... Helen 12:16:17 5/28/98 (0)
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