Linda Troost is interviewed by KPBS on the monster mash-ups. Most of it is stuff you’ve heard before if you’ve been paying attention, but we must object to a bit at the end:
Well Jane Austen has been an object of adoration for quite a long time. In the very, very early 20th century, there were – she was prescribed reading for shell shocked World War I soldiers and I think partly because of that she became very, very dear to a great many people’s hearts. And, in fact, Rudyard Kipling wrote a story in 1920 called “The Janeites,” which is about a group of World War I soldiers who name all of their guns and cannons after Jane Austen characters and they actually used Jane Austen’s plots as sort of a secret code amongst themselves. It’s particularly funny because the person telling the story is a heavy Cockney and so we’ve got this whole thing being done in Cockney accent. But the term Janeite then gets applied to people who are sort of, you know, up – they’re like Trekkies only for Jane Austen…
DR. TROOST: …and we still have them with us. And the movies have, I think, made a lot more Janeites.
CAVANAUGH: Yes, but does our obsession with Jane Austen tell us anything about our own culture?
DR. TROOST: Oh, I think a lot of us are very, very escapist. The Jane Austen that the Janeites are interested in is the Jane Austen of the rolling English countryside, its green and pleasant land. The pretty dresses, and the men with their elegant manners. That’s what a lot of people want, that kind of restrained, tasteful, classical, cultured world. That’s not necessarily the Jane Austen that the academic scholar sees, though. What they see there is the person deeply critical of her own society, the roles of women, the roles of men, the power that money plays over people’s lives, the hypocrisy that lies underneath the – a seemingly polished and elegant world. It’s really two different Jane Austens. But Jane Austen can accommodate both of them just perfectly.
Newsflash: Many of us who call ourselves Janeites may not have a lot of initials after our names, and we may enjoy the “green and pleasant land” of England (it’s a very pretty place) and pretty dresses and such, but that doesn’t mean we are incapable of seeing “the person deeply critical of her own society, the roles of women, the roles of men, the power that money plays over people’s lives, the hypocrisy that lies underneath the – a seemingly polished and elegant world.” And many of us bought your stinking book, too. *fondles Cluebat lovingly*