Deborah Yaffe

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Say a little prayer for me

By Deborah Yaffe, Apr 23 2015 01:00PM

It’s commonplace to speak about Jane Austen fandom in terms usually associated with religion. Austen-love is a “cult” filled with those who “worship” the author. Janeites make “pilgrimages” to Austen-related sites (“shrines”) in order to examine “relics” of Austen’s physical being, like a long-faded lock of her hair. Souvenir-sellers emblazon T-shirts and coasters with the legend “WWJD?” – where the J stands, not for Jesus, but for Jane.


So perhaps the Jane Austen Prayer Candle was inevitable.


The creators of this particular Austen bizarrity clearly have tongue firmly planted in cheek – their offerings include a prayer candle dedicated to Karl Marx, the man who told the world that religion was “the opium of the people” – and they have given us Jane Austen as a medieval saint, complete with glittering halo and faux gold-leaf background. “St. Austen,” they’ve dubbed her.


As the daughter of an Anglican clergyman, Austen would no doubt have squirmed at the Roman Catholic imagery, not to mention the blasphemous elevation of a mere human being – albeit a divine genius – to prayer-worthy status.


But hey -- if you’re going to light a candle and send up a blasphemous, secular prayer to an adored being with no supernatural power to grant your wishes, you could certainly do worse than Jane Austen.



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