Deborah Yaffe

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By Deborah Yaffe, Sep 15 2014 01:00PM

We Janeites are used to seeing Our Author co-opted by partisans across the politico-cultural spectrum: depending on who’s talking, she’s a conservative, a feminist, a devout Anglican, a foe of slavery, a proponent of female modesty, a voice for egalitarianism.


And now she’s in favor of Scottish independence.


Ahead of Thursday’s history-making referendum on whether Scotland should dissolve its three-centuries-old union with Great Britain comes the sly and hilarious “Jane Austen for YES” Twitter account, inaugurated just last Friday.


The roughly three dozen posts so far consist entirely of quotations from Austen’s writings, occasionally annotated to suggest how they relate to the burning political question of the day.


“As Mr. Bennet would say to David Cameron, ‘You have delighted us long enough,’ ” reads the first post. Channeling Mr. Darcy, a later tweet warns, “My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever,” adding the hashtags #thehellwiththebbc and #thehellwiththeguardian. (The Guardian newspaper editorialized for a "no" vote, and independence proponents accuse the BBC of an institutional bias against their cause).


But in other tweets, it's the British prime minister who is represented by Mr. Darcy (“He [Cameron] was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and every body hoped that he would never come there again”) while Scotland is analogized to the feisty Elizabeth Bennet, as in the three-tweet series quoting her furious refusal of Darcy's first proposal: “From the very beginning— from the first moment, I may almost say— of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike.”


(Presumably, pro-independence forces would consider it bad form to point out that these two do end up getting married, after all.)


The only sign of who’s behind this clever confection is a link to a web site promoting Mimi, a 2013 novel by the well-known writer Lucy Ellmann, who lives in Edinburgh. I haven’t read Ellmann’s other work, but whatever your views on Scottish independence, “Jane Austen for YES” has my vote.



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