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Jane Austen inspires vicious feuds among her hordes of admirers

By Richard Beck   October 2012

Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures by Claudia L Johnson (University of Chicago Press, £22.50)

What Matters in Jane Austen by John Mullan (Bloomsbury, £14.99)

The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Kantor (Regnery, £16.99)

The most entertaining episode in western literature’s 200-year-long fight over who loves Jane Austen most took place in 1940, when a psychiatrist and literary critic named DW Harding published an essay called “Regulated Hatred: An Aspect of the Work of Jane Austen.” His argument was simple: “[Jane Austen’s] books are, as she meant…

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