Deborah Yaffe

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By Deborah Yaffe, Apr 22 2013 01:00PM

The other night I was trying, once again, to persuade two of my friends to read Jane Austen. They’re both smart, well-educated native English speakers who enjoy reading novels, but they seem to have a curious psychological resistance to reading one of the all-time greatest of English novelists. One of these friends dropped out of my neighborhood Jane Austen reading group after just a few chapters of Northanger Abbey; the other has had a paperback of Persuasion gathering dust on her shelves since – well, since I gave it to her, four or five years ago.


And, of course, they’re not alone. Although we Janeites like to think that Austen’s greatness is universally acknowledged, the Austen-haters are out there in force. If you doubt me, just Google “hate Jane Austen,” and feast your eyes on, for instance, Modern Day Storyteller, or Last Best Angry Man, or The Gloss, or Abby Rogers.

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