From the BBC:
She wrote it herself in 1813: “How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book.”
Jane Austen’s own work is a case in point. It may be 200 years since her most celebrated novel, Pride and Prejudice, was published, but in the US she is the subject of more wildly devotional fan-worship than ever.
With their conventions, Regency costumes and self-written “sequels” to their heroine’s novels, Austen’s most dedicated adherents display a fervency easily rivalling that of the subcultures around Star Trek or Harry Potter.
Some Janeites, as they call themselves, write their own fiction imagining the marital exploits of Mr and Mrs Darcy. Others don elaborate period dress and throw Jane Austen-themed tea parties and balls.
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For all that her stories can be by turns bleak and waspish, however, it’s the romance of Austen’s world that many Janeites say drew them in.
“There’s a longing for the elegance of the time,” says Myretta Robens, who manages one of the most popular US Austen fan sites, The Republic of Pemberley. “It’s an escape.”
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Nonetheless, it might be seen as incongruous that Austen’s fandom is so extensive in the US, a nation founded on the rejection of aristocracy and old world manners and traditions.
Indeed, when Pride and Prejudice was first published, the UK and US were at war. Nattress, who lives in Snohomish, Washington state, believes US Janeism is an expression of a persistent Anglophile streak in American society.
“I think that we look back to the motherland in many respects,” she says.
“Look at the incredible impact Downton Abbey has had over here. It’s a perfect example of how America is fascinated by British culture.”
But while Austen’s sharp prose, ironic wit and vivid characterisation are all key to her appeal, Robens believes that it is the romantic entanglements of her strong-willed heroines that draw so many to the books.
“It’s women, in general, who fall in love with them,” says Robens. “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that women want to read about relationships.”
Link to the rest at the BBC