Nancy McKibben's Reviews > Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom

Among the Janeites by Deborah Yaffe
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Among the Janeites
By Deborah Yaffe

An attractive cover with a reference to Jane Austen - it was enough to make me pick up this book, although I’d rather read fiction. I thought I was a Jane Austen fan, but reading about these fans made me realize that there are levels and there are levels of fandom, and while I’ve actually read and re-read the books, which puts me on a level above those whose appreciation is based on Colin Firth’s wet shirt appearance in Pride and Prejudice, I have miles to go before I could call myself a Janeite.

Author Deborah Yaffe was an inveterate reader as a child, and she first read Jane Austen as a fifth grader. Like many Janeites, Yaffe then read Austen’s six novels over and over, little realizing that other readers loved Austen’s work as she did. Then as an adult, she found the web site The Republic of Pemberley, whose citizens are all about Jane Austen all the time, and became part of the worldwide community that she explores in this book.

Yaffe interviewed fans; academics; writers of sequels and fan fiction (which range from fiction imagined from Darcy’s point of view to Pride and Prejudice with the zombies); costumers and dressmakers (the annual meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America would be sadly incomplete without the Regency Ball on its last evening, when members dress in period costume and dance the night away); Jane Austen web site founders; and Jane Austen philanthropists, including Sandy Lerner, the co-founder of Cisco Systems, who used her internet fortune to restore Edward Austen’s home, Chawton House (Jane lived with her parents in Chawton Cottage on the grounds of the manor) to its former glory for use as a research library for the study of early English writing by women.

Yaffe tries to track down the common denominator that makes this diversity of women into Janeites, and finally concludes:
The rich diversity of responses to Austen captures something real about her - the depth and complexity of her writings, which, like diamonds held up to sunlight, reflect something different from every angle. Her stories are not blank canvases onto which we project ourselves; they are complicated, ambiguous pictures of lived reality. We all find ourselves in her because, in a sense, she contains us all.

If you like Jane Austen, this book will entertain you.

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Reading Progress

September 15, 2013 – Started Reading
September 15, 2013 – Finished Reading
October 27, 2013 – Shelved
October 27, 2013 – Shelved as: non-fiction

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