Jane Austen, then and now
Salon captures Austen’s enduring appeal:
For the kind of fan who writes “Pride/Prejudice” or “Darcy & Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley” or “Mr. Darcy’s Diary” or, for that matter, “Mr. Darcy, Vampyre” (there are, in fact, two different series featuring an undead Darcy), there just isn’t enough Jane Austen, and cranking out sequels and auxiliary works is the only response to an unquenchable craving for more. Since so many of these fans have difficulty even registering those elements of her work that don’t amount to romantic wish-fulfillment and quaint gentility, you would think they’d be easily satisfied with the imitations, but this doesn’t seem to be the case; none of them has been greeted with much acclaim. How often, when we get what we think we want, do we find ourselves obscurely disappointed? Perhaps one secret of Austen’s charisma is that, like an accomplished flirt, she knows better than to grant her audience’s fondest wishes: Her romances are not as passionate as the Janeites might desire, but neither is her morality as “cold and penetrating” as the sterner scholars portray it.