A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A JANE FAN
A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing
anything, should conceal it as well as she can.
Jane is everywhere these days. The media deluge continues daily about The Complete Jane Austen presentation on PBS, and Northanger Abbey airing on Sunday. Most of the articles are straight forward informational blurbs, but a few really made me laugh at all the folly that others perceive about the fascination with Jane Austen, and her fandom. I particularly liked Nancy Franklin’s hilarious article from The New Yorker entitled, Everybody Love’s Jane. You can read my highlights at my co-blog, Jane Austen Today. Be prepared to roll your eyes like Lizzy Bennet in amazement!
Now that our Jane is the topic-du-jour, some of my friends who know that I am an enthusiast have been phoning and e-mailing me with questions. It seems that anyone with a little bit of knowledge is an authority. It is flattering, but sometimes I just don’t quite know what to tell them. How much do they really want to know? I found this online article, Jane Austen, Yadda, Yadda, Yadda, by British literature scholar Devoney Looser, and it really hit home for me. So much so that I feel compelled to share confess an Austen fandom encounter at work yesterday.
Whilst going about my duties as a bookseller, I was challenged about my knowledge of Jane Austen by two young male wisecrackers who recognized my name from an announcement of the Jane Austen event that I will be hosting in the store in February! The conversation went something like this.
Wisecracker 1: “Hey we’re looking for that new Steven King graphic novel”.
(Nod of acknowledgement and then I look it up in the database.)
Me: “Yes, could that be The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born”?
Wisecracker 2: “Yea, yea, that’s it. Where is it”?
(We walk to the section of the store and I pull the book off the shelf and place it in his hand.)
Wisecracker 1: (looks at my name tag) “Hey you’re that Jane Austen smarty-pants.”
(Blank look of alarm, frozen body, feet glued to ground, smiles sweetly, cheek twitching)
Me: “Well, not quite. But some of my friends say so”.
(Oh ack! Why did I say that? These Cretins will not get that reference.)
Wisecracker 1: “Yea, we saw the sign. That thing you’re doing about Jane Austen. Our girlfriends want to go”.
Wisecracker 2: (Skeptical smirky look on face) “Hey, what’s the deal with Jane Austen and that Mr. Darcy”?
(Ok, this is sounding like a conversation between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the movie You’ve Got Mail! A momentary pause while I dig deep and decide to keep it within their realm.)
Me: “She’s the anti-Christ and he’s her love slave.” (Serious look on face).
Wisecracker 1 & 2: (Surprise on faces, then roaring laughter & nodding heads of acknowledgment. Walk back to their girlfriends who are hovering at the Jane Austen table display.)
Ah … Just another day at your friendly local neighborhood bookstore, where the wit and wisdom of Jane Austen is tested on the masses and the smartass staff is at your beck and call.
Shssh. Don’t tell my boss!
*Illustration of (that sex pot) Jane Austen by Gerald Scarfe, The New Yorker magazine, 18 January 2008