Jane Austen, then and now

Salon captures Austen’s enduring appeal:

For the kind of fan who writes “Pride/Prejudice” or “Darcy & Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley”Jane Austen, then and now or “Mr. Darcy’s Diary”Jane Austen, then and now or, for that matter, “Mr. Darcy, Vampyre”Jane Austen, then and now (there are, in fact, two different series featuring an undead Darcy), there just isn’t enough Jane Austen, and cranking out sequels and auxiliary works is the only response to an unquenchable craving for more. Since so many of these fans have difficulty even registering those elements of her work that don’t amount to romantic wish-fulfillment and quaint gentility, you would think they’d be easily satisfied with the imitations, but this doesn’t seem to be the case; none of them has been greeted with much acclaim. How often, when we get what we think we want, do we find ourselves obscurely disappointed? Perhaps one secret of Austen’s charisma is that, like an accomplished flirt, she knows better than to grant her audience’s fondest wishes: Her romances are not as passionate as the Janeites might desire, but neither is her morality as “cold and penetrating” as the sterner scholars portray it.

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One thought on “Jane Austen, then and now

  1. My take on Madame Austen: http://culturedetritus.blogspot.com/2009/12/prejudice-against-pride.html

    In summary, after reading Pride and Prejudice (minus zombies), I think I understood her enduring appeal and its nature better. Austen’s work is protofeminist in an interesting way: her heroes are strong, smart, and independent women who also basically just want to get married to handsome guys. She offers a holistic and, critically, completely apolitical vision of womanhood. This is why men are at best indifferent to her work, as she has little to say to them. But women? There is a lot there for them, and compared to forthrightly misogynistic tripe like Twilight, a woman could do a lot worse than old Jane.

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