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Few of Jane Austen’s fans can pinpoint the first time they read Pride and Prejudice, but they always remember what a fine novel it was. With repeated readings, the Bennet sisters come to be old friends, and it’s comical when Austen skewers pompous Reverend Collins and proud Lady Catherine De Bourgh. Jane Austen’s enthusiasts make up a large company, since these days her Facebook page has the number of her fans at over one million. Many of these are under thirty years of age. Her continuing popularity, among young people especially, allows one to argue that Jane Austen is the best writer in English. Her greatness shows in how her novels still speak to modern audiences, although her world of horse-drawn carriages, country dances, and vast estates is long gone.
A few of the reasons Austen’s novels are so engaging are the absence of sex scenes, “alpha males,” and shopping. One can argue that the standards of her time prohibited sex scenes, but even if she could, one can bet she woul…