'Among the Janeites': 6 stories from the realm of intense Jane Austen fandom

Why do Jane Austen's novels appeal so strongly to so many readers across lines of age, gender, and geography, despite the fact that they were written two centuries ago? Deborah Yaffe went everywhere from conferences to roller derby bouts to find out what makes Austen fans tick. Here are a few excerpts from her book, "Among the Janeites".

1. Austen as crossover artist


Yaffe points out that Jane Austen's novels have an unusual claim to fame. "Hip college professors may lecture on Star Trek and edit collections of essays on The Big Lebowski, but no one confuses those works with artifacts of high culture," she wrote. "By contrast, nearly two centuries after her death, Jane Austen has a secure home in two very different worlds: the solemn pantheon of classic English literature and the exuberantly commercial realm of pop culture. She is the ultimate crossover artist, equally welcome at Yale and on YouTube."

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