Around the Austen Web

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We have been struggling a bit with the whole blogging thing lately, but others have fortunately taking up the slack! (And there will be a announcement about AustenBlog coming very soon. Nothing bad, we promise!)

among_the_janeites_coverWe are on record as having very much enjoyed Deborah Yaffe’s book Among the Janeites, and her blog is very good reading as well. In particular we enjoyed Deborah’s recent post about the Austen Project, which brought up a point that we had been wondering about but was too lazy to blog: why haven’t the last two authors been announced yet? That is, the authors who will write updated versions of Persuasion and Mansfield Park? Being the cynical tar-hearted spinster &c. that we are, we have suspected that the project has been so unsuccessful that The Powers That Be have decided to discontinue the project. However, Deborah makes a very good alternative point: perhaps no author has been willing to take on the job. Deborah also reviews Alexander McCall Smith’s recent release of an updated Emma and looks forward to Curtis Sittenfeld’s Pride and Prejudice–which has been titled Eligible, rather than simply copying the title of the original! One hopes the publishers have responded to the general hostility with which the unchanged titles have been received by Greater Janeiteland, and retitled the novel. Or perhaps Ms. Sittenfeld simply insisted. More power to her, we say. In any event, do check out the post, as well as the rest of Deborah’s excellent blog.

young_jane_austen_coverLisa Pliscou, author of the new Austen biography Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer, also has a blog with some interesting entries about Jane Austen. This post, about the books read and loved by famous authors, mentions several authors who love Jane Austen’s work, which is all perfectly delightful. (We are currently reading Bring Up the Bodies, the second in Hilary Mantel’s series about Thomas Cromwell, and were startled and amused to find “Tilney Abbey” mentioned–we’re pretty sure such an abbey never actually existed but you KNOW where she got it from.) Emma Thompson is quoted, mentioning whom she would invite to a dinner party, as saying, “I’d have gone for Jane Austen if I weren’t convinced she’d just have a soft-boiled egg and leave early.” Lisa protests against this, as did several Janeites (including the Editrix) on Twitter.

REVIEW: Among the Janeites by Deborah Yaffe

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among_the_janeites_coverDisclaimer: I was interviewed for this book, becoming acquainted (dare I say, friendly) with the author in the process. I disclose that for the sake of transparency; it did not affect my opinion of the book. -MCS

When we read Claire Harman’s book Jane’s Fame back in 2009, we were quite disappointed by what we perceived (perhaps somewhat defensively) as the condescending and dismissive way that Ms. Harman reported on the 21st-century Austen fandom, especially as compared to her treatment of Austen fans in earlier eras. She didn’t come right out and call us tea-sipping, cat-stroking, bonnet-wearing wet shirt fanatics, but one didn’t have to do much reading between the lines to get the impression she was barely holding back. At the time we wrote,

It would have been really interesting to have One Of Us, a Janeite who is “not afraid to be seen wallowing” as Ms. Harman put it, write an overview of the State of the Fandom, even a constructively critical one.

Gentle Readers, Jane Austen must have been smiling upon our wish, for it has been granted–and then some! Deborah Yaffe’s book, Among the Janeites, is all we hoped for when we wrote that review and more. Written with wit, intelligence, and tremendous affection, this “Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom” is the most thoroughly enjoyable Austen-related book we’ve read in some time. The subject interests us in any event–we like to say we are a frustrated sociologist, which is probably at least part of why we enjoy Austen’s work–but in the hand of the wrong author, one who is not quite as much in sympathy with the tribe of Austen, it could have been, like Ms. Harman’s book, a real missed opportunity. Fortunately that is not the case. Continue reading