Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures

Alice Spawls writes:

Claudia Johnson begins with a ghost story. It’s the right place to start, Johnson tells us, because her book is about Austen’s ‘afterlives’. It’s also right because the Janeites take great pleasure in being ‘a bit loony’ and Johnson too is a bit loony. Janeites favour the ‘world of wonder’ over the ‘world of reason’ and Johnson is no exception. If this seems ‘inconsistent with the cool rationality we associate with academic scholars or, for that matter, with Jane Austen’, it can be explained, she tells us, by the fact that most of the writers she discusses are ‘not academics’ and ‘the Austen they adore’ – and for Janeites it is a sort of worship – ‘has more to do with the world of wonder.’

(LRB 8 November 2012)