Jane Austen’s Work Has New Fanbase: The Alt-Right

March 21, 2017 5:00 am
Author Jane Austen in a  1775 portrait. Getty Images)
Author Jane Austen in a 1775 portrait. Getty Images)
Author Jane Austen in a 1775 portrait. Getty Images)
Author Jane Austen in a 1775 portrait. (Getty Images)

Perhaps they’re taking the title of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice too literally.

The New York Times is reporting that members of the alt-right movement are reading racial overtones into the novelist’s work and declaring it their own.

Nicole Wright, an assistant professor of English at the University of Colorado, recently penned an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education—an article which included a Jane Austen cartoon sporting a red “Make America Great Again” cap—where she examines Austen’s newest enthusiasts.

Wright said that many of these alt-right literary fans are using the nostalgia of Austen’s England, where her characters are almost all white, as an example of a perfect “ethno-state” for white nationalism.

Controversial alt-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos  also previously used the first line of the classic “Pride and Prejudice” to throw shade at feminists. Austen sensibilities, it appears, can appeal to a large spectrum of people.

“By comparing their movement not to the nightmare Germany of Hitler and Goebbels, but instead to the cozy England of Austen,” Wright said, Austen’s alt-right supporters try to convince people that “perhaps white supremacists aren’t so different from mainstream folks.”

Yet many Austen scholars—who tend to lean left—reject the label, saying anyone who pays attention to Austen prose knows that this is simply not true.

“No one who reads Jane Austen’s words with any attention and reflection can possibly be alt-right,” Elaine Bander, a retired professor and former officer of the Jane Austen Society of North America. “All the Janeites I know are rational, compassionate, liberal-minded people.”

For more see the original story by the New York Times.



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