In Defense of Miss Jane Austen


Laura Miller at Salon writes about Jane Austen and mashups and paraliterature and other literary endeavors in Jane’s name. Unlike the usual specimen of this sort of thing, we actually found a great deal to agree with in this article.

Like Dumbledore’s mirror, Austen’s fiction seems to have the ability to reflect whatever its readers most wish to see.

THIS, as the kids say on the Livejournals.

Austen is the grandmother of chick lit, much as that fact may irk her highbrow admirers. But that’s not all she is, and to persuade yourself that her novels are only about being courted by rich, handsome men well-versed in ballroom etiquette is to be as dangerously silly and frivolous as Elizabeth Bennet’s youngest sister, Lydia.

This, this, this!

The chick-lit take on Austen is forever trying to subtract the brutal social and economic realities from her fiction (as well as ignoring the mortifications her heroines undergo), but there’s yet another category of Janeite that doesn’t want to take anything out. Instead, they prefer to add.

The recently published “Pride/Prejudice” by Ann Herendeen posits that before Elizabeth and Darcy united, they each had same-sex affairs: Elizabeth with Charlotte Lucas and Darcy with Mr. Bingley. Supposedly this explains why they were both so dead set against the marriages of their friends, although Austen’s novel provides perfectly adequate, if a lot less titillating, reasons.

This is the first we’ve heard of this novel…seriously, can’t you think of anything better? It’s fine to want to write a story exploring homosexuality in the world of JA’s novels, but this mania for twisting canon is just bizarre. (For the record, this is how it’s done. Pray note the date. Don’t worry, nothing explicit; just an exploration of The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name, Really, We Mean It. (Full disclosure: the story Kaleidoscope is a collection of pieces by different authors writing the Netherfield Ball scene in P&P1995 from the point of view of a minor character. The Editrix had her share in the conversation, and no bestiality jokes, s’il vous plait.)

Within the first few pages, Bingley is archly whispering to Darcy, “Kiss me again, brute.”

*falls off chair laughing*

Anyway, go read the article. We liked it very much indeed!

2 thoughts on “In Defense of Miss Jane Austen

  1. Melinda

    Ok, then…I think I like Jane Austen’s reasons better for why Darcy and Elizabeth were against the marriages of their friends. Somehow, her version seems a wee bit more plausible.

    You fell off your chair laughing for a good cause.


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