How did someone whose vision is so darkly, even bleakly, comic—whose work brims with vicious, gabbling grotesques, most of whom are never adequately (or even minimally) punished for their sins (as Dickens, not so many years later, felt compelled to punish his)—become the patron saint of the turgid, chest-heaving, emotionally pornographic genre called “Regency Romance”?
I don’t know, and I don’t care. I only care to stop it—to fire the opening salvo that will, I hope, ignite the barrage of indignation that brings this travesty to a halt and restores, once and for all, the spit and vinegar to Jane Austen’s public profile, raising her to the pantheon of gadflies that she might take her place beside Voltaire and Swift, Twain and Mencken. My goal is to make the world acknowledge, at long last, the bitch in the bonnet.
Well, we’ve been trying to do that for five years now. What we’ve discovered is that most of the people who actually read Jane Austen know this already. The people who don’t read her work, yet feel compelled to share their
idiocy commentary, tend to get their information from the popular culture zeitgeist. Now, the media likes their soundbytes, and if the soundbytes say Jane Austen is a sweet spinster auntie then by gum she is a sweet spinster auntie, and there’s nothing snarky bloggers with Cluebats can do about it but take a metaphorical swing at their overinflated heads and rage at the darkness. But you go to it, sonny, and let us know how it works out for you, mmkay?
And just in case you have any bright ideas about appropriating our schtick, the Cluebat of Janeite Righteousness belongs to us. It even has our name on it. See?
P.S. No ripping on Georgette Heyer, either. She was a bitch in a very expensive and exquisitely tasteful pillbox hat.