Deborah Yaffe

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May Jane be with you

By Deborah Yaffe, Jul 20 2015 01:00PM

Fandom need not be monogamous. “It's apparent that there is a fannish personality,” the dance historian Allison Thompson told me when I interviewed her four years ago for Among the Janeites. “There are some people who get really into something, whatever it might be, and may even explore multiple fandoms.”


So perhaps it’s not surprising that a bunch of Janeites should turn out to be Star Wars geeks – or vice versa. Whichever it is, nine members of these overlapping fandoms spent an entertaining ninety minutes on Twitter one night earlier this month riffing on an excellent question, posed via a tweet from @Drunk_Austen (“It is a truth universally acknowledged that we're drunk”): “Are Han and Leia a galactic Darcy and Lizzy?”


The exchange includes many gems, as the participants wonder whether Darth Vader is more like Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins or Mr. Bennet; cast R2D2 as Lydia Bennet and the reviled Jar Jar Binks in the thankless role of Kitty; and posit the gnomic Yoda as the saga’s Austen-like narrator (“SOMEBODY PLEASE MAKE A YODA-AS-JANE-AUSTEN GRAPHIC!!!” implores one tweeter. “WITH THE CAPTION "A universal truth, it is!"). The best of the lot may be the tweet highlighting a hitherto unnoticed resemblance between Chewbacca and the actor Crispin Bonham-Carter, who plays Mr. Bingley in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.


My answer to the initial question, by the way: Sure, Han and Leia are Darcy and Lizzy, because Austen created a prototype – the first-she-hates-him-then-she-loves-him plot -- that has been cheerfully ripped off by every romantic-comedy author who came after her, including George Lucas. Infinitely adaptable to all eras, situations and galaxies, it’s a storyline that never goes out of style.


By the way, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page linked above. You wouldn’t want to miss the picture of Jane Austen with a light saber.


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