Deborah Yaffe

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Pemberley in peril

By Deborah Yaffe, Aug 15 2016 01:00PM

Two years ago, under intense financial pressure, the Republic of Pemberley, the largest online Jane Austen fan community, downsized to a less expansive website on a smaller server. For us longtime Pemberleans, the move was wrenching.


But in just two weeks, we could face something even worse: the demise of this nineteen-year-old haven of literate, civil conversation. Last month, site manager Myretta Robens announced that unless Pemberley can plug a $2,000 budget hole by September 1, the volunteer-run site will close down.


Say it ain’t so, Janeites! Pemberley is that rarest of creatures, a web community where people who share a common interest – dare I say obsession? – manage to discuss and disagree without yelling. It’s a digital water cooler where you can learn about new books to read, movies to see and TV shows to watch. And it’s one of the few places in this benighted, illiterate world where no one will ever ask you why you care so much about the doings of a bunch of fictional characters.


As of last Wednesday, Pemberley’s fundraising appeal had netted about a quarter of the necessary amount. Support can come in the form of a lump-sum donation or a regular subscription funneled through Amazon or Paypal. (Perhaps websites, like people, always live forever when there is any annuity to be paid them?) Instructions on how to make either type of contribution can be found on Pemberley’s Support page.


To any one of us, $2,000 may seem like a lot of money – it certainly does to me – but for our community as a whole? Surely this amount isn’t beyond our collective means. Skip your latte once a week and dedicate the proceeds to keeping Pemberley alive! No Fanny Dashwoods here -- now is the time to channel our inner Sir John Middletons.


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