Austen's Disciples and Devotees
Edited by Deidre Lynch
Over the last decade, as Jane Austen has moved center-stage in our culture, onto best-seller lists and into movie houses, another figure has slipped into the spotlight alongside her. This is the "Janeite," the zealous reader and fan whose devotion to the novels has been frequently invoked and often derided by the critical establishment. Jane Austen has long been considered part of a great literary tradition, even legitimizing the academic study of novels. However, the Janeite phenomenon has not until now aroused the curiosity of scholars interested in the politics of culture. Rather than lament the fact that Austen today shares the headlines with her readers, the contributors to this collection inquire into why this is the case, ask what Janeites do, and explore the myriad appropriations of Austen--adaptations, reviews, rewritings, and appreciations--that have been produced since her lifetime.
The articles move from the nineteenth-century lending library to the modern cineplex and discuss how novelists as diverse as Cooper, Woolf, James, and Kipling have claimed or repudiated their Austenian inheritance. As case studies in reception history, they pose new questions of long-loved novels--as well as new questions about Austen's relation to Englishness, about the boundaries between elite and popular cultures and amateur and professional readerships, and about the cultural work performed by the realist novel and the marriage plot.
The contributors are Barbara M. Benedict, Mary A. Favret, Susan Fraiman, William Galperin, Claudia L. Johnson, Deidre Lynch, Mary Ann O'Farrell, Roger Sales, Katie Trumpener, and Clara Tuite.
Deidre Lynch is Associate Professor of English at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is the author of The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning and the coeditor, with William B. Warner, of Cultural Institutions of the Novel.