The article attempts to deconstruct the reasons behind Jane Austen’s continuing popularity, a subject that has a great interest for me. According to those interviewed, Austen’s appeal, especially to the young, comes from our similar situations.
Austen’s themes are universal. People today are still interested in finding Mr. or Miss Right, and they seek to become financially stable, though today women do have other means of providing for themselves monetarily than by marrying well, becoming a governess, or walking the streets. Modern women still deal with loony parents and dating dilemmas, and we also contend with certain social mores that affect our behavior.
Sure, things aren’t the same as they used to be, but still, we find ourselves doing the same kind of social networking that Austen wrote about. They wrote letters; we text. They had balls; we have clubs. They read about social happenings in newspapers; we post on Facebook. Technology may have changed, but we are still trying to reach out to one another.
Motivated by a love for all things Austen, communities have formed around the web. Along with JASNA chapters and Austen book clubs, you can find her online. There are fan fiction websites, where writers play with Austen’s characters and share their stories with each other. You can find the full texts of her novels. You can even find Auten’s version of Facebook: Austenbook.
I think there is a bit more to the Austen Experience, but the WSJ has it right: Jane Austen writes about universal, timeless themes, and she’s here to stay!