Fans have always been fighting about their love object: even book fans (Especially book fans?)
There’s a lot more to be said about fans, but not here and now. Fans are a good thing, though: they’re passionate, creative, loyal. I should know, I am one, fans of many things. Of course, they can be vocal, obnoxious and excessive, too. But no one is perfect.
Anyway, an interesting article from Prospect Magazine on how Jane Austen inspires vicious feuds among her hordes of admirers provides us with an intriguing read and a few reference books titles to Austen’s work.
The bit that caught my attention is
The original, early-20th century outburst of Janeism may well have faded into historical obscurity were it not for an English tutor named Robert William Chapman, who, in 1923, published Jane Austen’s novels in a scholarly edition. A major event for Austen’s works as well as for the novel in general—it was the first scholarly edition of any novelist’s works published in English—Chapman’s five-volume set made Austen academically respectable. A novelist’s public popularity may wax and wane, but universities can ensure that a writer’s long-term reputation weathers periods of disregard. It is thanks to Chapman that we can consider Austen’s works, as Henry James put it, “shelved and safe for all time.
There is a lot to be said for the conservation of material. What if this edition never happened? Would Austen still be read and appreciated with the same intensity? Other authors have, of course, but how many were female and writing in her genre?
And so on and so forth.
Which is why conservation of written material is important, and why I’m very happy that a few Universities in the States (I don’t know if the same happens in the UK, if you do, please let me know) have collections of fanzines: fan publications made for fans, recording the creativity and the passion of a subculture through the years.
I wish with all my heart many other things were preserved, instead of being burned, deleted, stepped on (entire civilizations deleted from memory).