an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above criticism
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Last month, I blogged about fan possessiveness over Jane Austen, the author, and how love of her work can extend to love of her, the (very private) individual, leading us to feel ownership over her thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
This month, I’m extending that discussion to her works.
As authors of Jane Austen fan fiction, everyone on this site plays in the world of Jane Austen’s characters, and what I find interesting is which aspects of her story become our sacred cows, and how these differ between authors.
As an example, let’s use Austen’s most beloved character: Elizabeth Bennet.
Since I write contemporary, often young-adult, I am drawn to Lizzie’s intelligence, stubbornness and ferocity of character. I also think it’s important that she be attractive, yet not remarkably so. I’m indifferent, however, to her having sisters.
(I’ll pause to allow those in need an opportunity to gasp….)
Yes, in my retellings, Lizzie doesn’t need sisters or a particularly close family. She just needs someone she wants to protect – and a close friend will do. But to many, the Bennet family is a sacred cow – untouchable, immutable canon of Jane Austen. While I do relate to her love for her family, as someone without sisters, I also think it’s possible to reflect that love in other venues.
Other Austen sacred cows I tend to ignore?
* The villainess – I’m talking Mary Crawford or Isabelle Thorne or even Lucy Steele – I love myself a good female redemption and if given the space will ensure they come around.
* Walking scenes – I just can’t make a walking scene interesting unless a zombie is in tow, quite frankly
* Women’s issues – Marriage just isn’t what it used to be, and I’m not particularly interested in parsing out a contemporary reflection of this role expectation
There are a select few purists out there (kudos to you!) who manage to weave all her tropes into their retellings, but many of us pick and choose our favorites, disregarding others. So let me know: what’s your favorite scared cow and what’s the one you can live without?
(Let’s keep it a no judgment zone!)