• Deborah Yaffe

Jane all around

Jane Austen turns up in the most unexpected places, doesn’t she? Here’s where she’s been in the past week:


--Jane Austen and true crime: The Irish Examiner gives a rave review to Thomas Morris’ The Dublin Railway Murder, a new book about a sensational 1856 slaying. “The most insatiable fans of courtroom drama and police procedurals would be satisfied,” writes reviewer Liam Heylin. “There is such colorful detail, not least that one of the justices had a youthful romance with Jane Austen and may have been the inspiration for her immortal Mr. Darcy.”


Nice to know that Tom Lefroy – a mere law student when the twenty-one-year-old Austen danced and flirted with him in 1796 – was still using his legal training sixty years later. I pass over the usual inspiration-for-Mr.-Darcy silliness with a sigh.


--Jane Austen and psychotherapy: In Psychology Today, Wendy Jones, whose 2017 book Jane on the Brain used examples from Austen’s novels to illustrate her discussion of the science of social intelligence, turns to Persuasion to clarify the concepts of “core affect” and “aversive affect.”


Anne Elliot’s pervasive sadness at the start of the novel is, Jones argues, an example of aversive affect – a state of being that is “defensive, warding off the possibility of painful encounters, or masking feelings too dangerous to confront.” Anne's happiness as she and Wentworth renew their connection is an example of core affect – a state of being that is “authentic and lively, engendering energy or relaxation.”


I’m unqualified to judge the accuracy of Jones’ analysis, but I never turn down a chance to think about Persuasion. This one can tide us over until the Dakota Johnson adaptation hits Netflix later this year.


--Jane Austen and Bitcoin: The cryptocurrency craze has arrived in city halls across the land, according to the New York Times, and among the new breed of “crypto mayors” is Scott Conger of Jackson, Tennessee, who hopes to set up a digital mining operation to make money for his midsize city. That effort has run into some legal roadblocks, but in his personal finances, Conger is all in on Bitcoin.


“On a table in his office, he keeps what looks like a copy of the Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice,” reports David Yaffe-Bellany.* “Although he remembers studying the book in high school, Mr. Conger is not an Austen fan, and the book is not actually a book. It’s a decorative box he found on Amazon, concealing a safe where he stores his personal Bitcoin wallet.”


If Conger, the brash evangelist for speculative new economic models, were more of an Austen fan, perhaps he would have realized that P&P, that story of love lubricated by old money, is hardly the right choice for his Bitcoin safe. Sanditon seems far more appropriate for this Tom Parker of the cyber age.



* Yes, the reporter is my son. Nepotism is permitted in blogging.

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