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Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  367 ratings  ·  101 reviews
A Paris Review Staff Pick and one of The Millions' Most Anticipated Reads of March

A raucous tour through the world of Mr. Darcy imitations, tailored gowns, and tipsy ballroom dancing

The son of a devoted Jane Austen scholar, Ted Scheinman spent his childhood eating Yorkshire pudding, singing in an Anglican choir, and watching Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy. Determined to lea
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Fsg Originals
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3.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  367 ratings  ·  101 reviews

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Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I came away not exactly certain who the target audience for this book would be? I do know that it doesn't include yours truly, however.

Off the bat, I should explain that I enjoy books about Austen and Jane-ite-ism. Reading the actual Canon not so much; so, references were lost on me at times, which I understood might happen.

Still, it came off as an idea that just didn't work well in the end. Might have made a long article, but marketed as a book it came off as a bit of examining the Jane-ite phe
Jun 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Mehhhh... I’m no stranger to literary fandom and I started this with glee...thinking at the very least I’d be packing my dress and heading off to the next Austen shindig. It’s not that it isn’t interesting, or things aren’t to be learnt (especially about the Juvenilia) but the tone is just tepid. Yes...we get that you were dragged along already ...but I think the whole point to a book like this would be some level of joy, which I just didn’t detect.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I would have liked this to really be more about the "camp" and the JASNA meetings and the people who populated them, rather than so often veering into attempts at literary criticism. The author often came off as...indulgent, like an uncle playing tea party with his nieces. There were rare moments of warmth and humanity—especially when the author was interacting with actual children—but I, personally, would have liked to see more of them. Perhaps this was a result of the author attempting to main ...more
Apr 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
The subtitle of this book was entirely misleading. Scheinman is not a Janeite, nor is he a superfan. He is, instead, an intellectual sort who finds the Janeite culture a bit fanatical and seems to smirk at it throughout. Being perfectly honest, I felt a bit offended by him. He helps to organize the first ever UNC Chapel Hill Jane Austen weekend summer camp; he is selected by both age and gender to stand in as Mr. Darcy for the weekend. But mentally he stands himself out of the fanaticism (as he ...more
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A sweet little book about a journalist/academic who grew up around Jane Austen academics and fandom (his mom) winds up helping at the inaugural Jane Austen Summer Camp in grad school. And by dint of being a) the son of a prominent Janeite and b) a reasonably decent-looking younger person of the male persuasion (of which there aren’t many at Janeite gigs) he winds up getting immersed in the fandom for a good 18 months. It’s partially a love-letter to a thing his mom loves, which he likes but isn’ ...more
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, lit-crit
A quick little book, with rather more of a personal focus than I had anticipated, but interesting and amusing. And I should have expected the emphasis on the author's personal experience as a “Janeite,” since he puts it right up front in his book's subtitle. After telling of his early introduction to Austen, by way of the “Juvenilia,” and of his familiarity with the world of Jane Austen enthusiasts through his mother, a college professor and Austen specialist, Scheinman moves on to tell how he b ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Leah Angstman
This is a wonderful little book. It’s part memoir, part nerdy superfandom, and part biographical essay on the life of Jane Austen, written by a professed “half-scholar” of British Classics and the son of one of the foremost modern scholars on Jane Austen. Thrown into this world at an early age, Scheinman has created from it a candid, yet approachable, look at the universe of Jane Austen cosplay and fandom, and has managed to put his own unique, humorous experiences (with the most hardcore of fai ...more
Sarah Emsley
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, from the focus on Jane Austen’s juvenilia and letters, which both deserve to be better known, to the light-hearted perspective on the experience of dressing in Regency attire and the thoughtful analysis of what it means to be a Janeite. Highly recommended for anyone who lives part time or full time in “Austenworld,” or wonders what life is like there.

“Austen’s true education was in the family library, which she approached as a young marauder who marked her favorites with wicke
Monica Edinger
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very entertaining for this Austen fan who is also familiar with the particular ways of literary societies through the Lewis Carroll Society. That said --- most Carroll society events do involve dancing or the extensive cosplay that the Janeites seem to enjoy.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Would have liked more detail and anecdotes from the events.
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, library
Scheinbar has a very incisive way of distilling down personalities into pithy one-liners (very Austenesque). But there's a touch of Lady Catherine condescension throughout the whole book - he appears sympathetic toward Janeites, but there's also a sense underneath that they're silly in a way that they're not aware of, but he is.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am so bummed that this happened in Chapel Hill and I never heard about it before now, even though I lived in Charlotte at the time. I guess that was the year I let my JASNA membership lapse, sigh.

Mr. Scheinman was a grad student at UNC when one of his professors came up with the idea to host what they jokingly refer to as a summer camp for grown ups but what is more of a conference, for academics and laypeople alike, focusing on Jane Austen. It is interesting to mix the two groups. Normally, t
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
An enjoyable peek at the world of Jane Austen superfans via a young scholar who helps put on a "camp" for them and finds himself dressing as Mr. Darcy ("I bunched the tights, inserted my feet and rolled the fabric up my legs, in imitation of the women in my life, regretting in silence that I had worn boxer shorts, which never fit well under tights. The effect was even snugger than I had anticipated but not entirely disagreeable. The silk integument of the tights offered a pleasant sense of suppo ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
More like 3.5 stars. Reading this book was, for the most part, great fun; it’s pure candy for Jane Austen fans, who will enjoy recognizing characters and passages from the books as well as spending time in the company of other true believers. Ted Scheinman, tongue planted firmly in cheek, is an entertaining guide through the world of JASNA (the Jane Austen Society of North America), whether he is opining about having to don 19th century tights and breeches to play Mr. Darcy at a ball, or recount ...more
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
I found this book a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping for more actual description of the Austen summer camp and various other jasna events but the author took a more birds eye philosophical approach musing about the nature of a janeite. It was fine as it was but could have used more fun details to make it more interesting. I am curious about the theatricals and plan to buy a copy of Jane Austen's letters...
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Academic in tone, but an interesting male perspective on Austen-mania.
Abigail  F
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m not a Janeite, but I have been a scholar of eighteenth-century literature (and will soon be again) and I have Janeite friends — and I began this book with excitement that quickly turned to deep skepticism. The tone for the first chapter or so seemed slightly mocking, and I wasn’t sure I’d want to continue. But by the time our author dons his Darcy costume (which I’m not sure my re-enactment steeped friends would recognize as precisely period correct), some of his love for Austenworld seeps i ...more
It was okay, I guess. Ted Scheinman spent a year and a half going from Austen convention to Austen convention playing Mr. Darcy. I love Austen's work, I enjoy the movies, but I don't care for conventions in general. So, I didn't mind reading this book of a world I'm not in a hurry to experience. But then again, I don't really understand why this particular fandom is any different than any number of other fandoms: comic books or movies/tv or civil war re-enactment enthusiasts. I'm sure all of the ...more
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a charming little book. Tim's mom, an Austen expert and aficionado, asks her son to step in for her at a Jane Austen "camp" at a college in North Carolina. Since he read Austen early on, and spent part of his childhood in the UK, this isn't a stretch, but he does quickly learn how in-demand a male presence as a Janeite event is! Tim makes great observations about Austen fans of all types, and this is a delightful little read. It also made me want to get a bonnet...
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, audio-book
Somewhat amusing in parts, but can't recommend.
Gabriella Walfridson
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
charming visit to Jane Austen academic fandom, especially good on her Juvenilia. very enjoyable and fast paced read
Book Pairings (Laci Long)
Full review coming soon
Kati Polodna
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Curious about what happens at a Jane Austen convention? I was!
A quicker read than my dates indicate; it’s a refreshing perspective of “a boy lost in Austenworld.” There’s honesty in the entertainment, and just enough snark. I think Jane would approve.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Just awful. Navel gazing at its condescending worst.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I've rated this "ok", because it's well-written (the author makes his living as an editor, after all). But it's not really a "book" with a book's integrity -- it's a long magazine article, and one can see just how it was constructed: the more personal parts taken from notebooks and material years-old, the segues for "Jane Austen's juvenilia", "theatricals", "changes in attitudes to Jane Austen",etc. The bibliography is standard.
To quote from his own book, Ted Scheinman, like a rising author of a
Sarah F.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While I consider myself a fan of Austen, I am one who lives on the outskirts of fandom - I have a favorite of her novels, and I love the movie adaptations, I enjoy tea, and fawning over my interpretation of Mr. Darcy. I have not spent much time actually ruminating on Austen's writings, the time period she wrote them in, or their satire. I have done so a little - but not nearly as much as I perhaps ought.

While this book has inspired me to take a renewed interest in a closer reading of Austen's w
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Austen Powers

Camp Austen is where superfans--scholars and civilians alike--discover and develop their literary powers by taking a most reverent part in the Janeite faith community through intellectually stimulating conversations debating Jane Austen's holy books. Consider all things old that precede Austenland and Austenworld as well as all things new that proceed from the mouths of the mediators. Her Bonneted Godhead and the Word Enfleshed persist through our imperfections in taking orders to i
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After participating in the first UNC-Chapel Hill Jane Austen Summer Camp (a meeting of Jane Austen fans including speakers and a Regency ball) Scheinman was inspired to pen this pithy and pointed memoir of his time in that Janeite world. Ironically, the word camp in the title can have two meanings: an outrageously funny, absurdly exaggerated, satirical rendition, or a place to rest in the wilderness during an expedition. After listening to the audiobook narrated by the author, one can claim eith ...more
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“(He also expressed gentle alarm over the suspected presence of “crypto-Trollopians” in the audience, a joke that landed with surprising force.)” 0 likes
“There is something unbearably selfish about the two person romance - about Romeo and Juliet or Heathcliff and Catherine. Austen’s novels do not belong to this species of love story. They are ensemble affairs not duos against the world. And they’re far more concerned with the question of how to live among our fellow beings than how to marry your best friend. The books end in weddings but that doesn’t make them love stories - it just makes them comedies.” 0 likes
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