Global Jane Austen, a collection of essays edited by Laurence Raw and Robert G. Dryden, examines the relationship between Austen’s admirers and her works. Austen’s fans seem to have a personal relationship with her, as can be seen in various websites and works of fan fiction devoted to her and her characters. The collection includes essays on adaptations of her works, on film, television, and radio, and the tourist industry in the places where she lived, including the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. According to the author of this particular essay, the Jane Austen Centre seems to be aimed more at fans of the adaptations than at fans of her novels.
Some of the most fascinating essays, at least to me, examined the appreciation of Austen in the non-English speaking world, including France, China, India, and Turkey. In France, Austen has long been regarded as only a minor author of light romances for young women. But her reputation there is based on old, inaccurate translations of her works, which miss her irony. The situation is similar in Turkey, but recent translations, and a biography, have gone a long way toward improving her reputation. Still, the translators feel a need to point out to the readers when Austen is being ironic, instead of letting the readers figure it out for themselves. An Australian teacher who taught English literature to students in China discusses how the students’ perceptions of her changed over the course of study. In another essay, a teacher and students from India discuss Mansfield Park and Emma, drawing parallels between Austen’s fiction and several Indian novels, and conditions in Indian society today.
Other essays examine continuations of Austen’s novels, both in fan fiction on the Internet and in published sequels, and two novels in which Austen is the main character. In one novel she’s a vampire, and in the other, a detective. The book ends with an interview with two authors of Austen-based fiction: one writes contemporary adaptations of Austen’s novels, and the other writes an Internet novel based on Pride and Prejudice, from Wickham’s point of view. Global Jane Austen is a treat for lovers of Jane Austen.
Global Jane Austen is available from the Hatcher Graduate Library.