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ISSN 0869-5377
The Logos Journal

Nostalgia and Self-Deprecation: the Literary Cult of Jane Austen Through the Figure of Her Fan

Author: Romanenko Ksenia

About author:
Postgraduate Student at the Institute of Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), 16/10 Potapovskiy ln, Moscow 101000, Russia.

The article considers the novel Pride and Prejudice by British writer Jane Austen as it is reflected in its adaptations, its literary and film sequels, and the fan practices associated with this novel. A characteristic feature of the bicentennial cult of Austen is its active self-reflection: Austen fans themselves are often described in sequels and parodies. The figure of an Asten fan, “Janeite,” and his or her ways of interacting with classical texts is the main focus of the article. First, the paper describes the transformation of the Jane Austen cult: from the literary communities of the 19th century, through the consolidation in the literary canon and in the popular culture during the 20th century, and finally, “austenmania,” a boom of popularity from the 1990s. Furthermore, specific subgenres of film adaptations and literary sequels devoted to fans of the writer, are analysed. Special attention is also paid to practices of using accessories thematically based on the novels by Jane Austen. Due to their visibility, these practices have helped create a framework of analysing the literary cult of Jane Austen through the figure of her fan in two emotional modes: nostalgia and irony. For an illustration of nostalgia and irony as key factors of “austenmania,” the article reviews the film Austenland, a screen adaptation of the sequel and a series based on the original script, Lost in Austen. To conclude, the article proposes to consider the interaction of the contemporary reader with the novels of Austen as a never-ending shared re-creating of the imagined literary world, a critical description and self-description of the fans, and a nostalgic dreaming about an idealized historical period of the early 19th century.

Keywords: classical literature; literary cult; sequels; fan practices; fan fiction

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