Deborah Yaffe


By Deborah Yaffe, Aug 6 2015 01:00PM

Given the ubiquity of Austen-inspired items, from tattoos to mouse pads, it’s no surprise that she’s conquered the world of paper dolls, too. In the past eighteen years, at least two artists have produced Austen-themed paper doll collections, one including many of the major characters from Pride and Prejudice, and one featuring two Austenian couples: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars.

But now Austen herself has been immortalized in cutout-and-tab form, along with fifteen other famous authors, from Shakespeare to Truman Capote. Unfortunately, the web site advertising the new product, Literary Paper Dolls, doesn’t provide a full view of the Austen page, but as far as I can see it appears to include a ballgown, a triple-decker edition of Pride and Prejudice, and a lap desk with quill pen.

Time to get out the scissors and give your Jane Austen Action Figure a little friend to play with. . .

By Deborah Yaffe, May 19 2014 01:00PM

The Jane Austen Action Figure is old hat. The Jane Austen coffee mugs and fridge magnets are routine. By now, we’re even accustomed to the Jane Austen air freshener, bandages and temporary tattoos.

But this one strikes me as irredeemably goofy. It’s not just the shock value of the cover – Jane Austen wrote seven novels only if the sixty-odd pages of “Lady Susan” get a major upgrade from novella.

No, it’s the weirdness of the whole concept that gets me.

If you’re the kind of person who carries around an emergency alcohol supply, do you carry it in a glass flask imported from Italy? (I mean, isn’t that sort of breakable? And wouldn’t a frequent tippler be exactly the kind of person likely to break it?)

And if you’ve bothered to invest in an imported glass flask, do you really want to conceal your fabulous taste inside a (hideous) faux book cover? And if you’re importing flasks and hiding them in books, is Jane Austen the author you’re going to choose for camouflage? I’m having trouble imagining the audience for this product.

And yet it’s out of stock – so presumably some secret drinker with a Janeite fetish must have bought it. I won’t be joining the club, though.

By Deborah Yaffe, Nov 21 2013 02:00PM

The Janeite Meme of the Week title goes to these elegant and hilarious Jane Austen temporary tattoos – so popular, it appears, that they’ve temporarily sold out. No wonder: who could resist a “Captain Wentworth” anchor tattoo for the bicep, or a lower back tattoo reading “Imprudent”?

(Though, of course, those of you who have checked out the non-temporary Janeite tattoos of Alethea White-Previs – see her lower back tattoo on the Among the Janeites Facebook page, under Photos or in the September 6 post – will know that the rest of us are mere amateurs by comparison.)

Meanwhile, I’m intrigued that this same retailer is selling – next to the Jane Austen air freshener and Jane Austen bandages – an apparently brand new version of the revered Jane Austen Action Figure. I was under the impression that this beloved talisman had been discontinued, but if so, she’s ba-a-a-ck, with new packaging and – gasp! – a pink spencer replacing the original green.

Is it necessary to own one in each color? I fear it may be. . .

By Deborah Yaffe, Oct 8 2013 12:43AM

I had a delightful time this weekend speaking to the Jane Austen Society of North America's Ottawa branch. Our lively discussion touched on everything from the continuing relevance of classic literature to the appeal of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. My Jane Austen Action Figure -- she's a prop in my speech -- was also welcomed warmly.

Ottawa looked lovely, even through a drizzle; I hope I'll be able to return some day soon. Thanks again for the invitation!

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