Jane Austen and the Myth of the Monogamous Therapist


May 25, 2015

Death Comes to Pemberley ­ —  didn’t read it.  Pride and Prejudice and the Zombies –one page.  Joanna Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility, Alexander McCall Smith’s  Emma – ain’t gonna read them even though I adore Johanna Trollope.

In fan fiction, a writer tells a story using the characters from someone else’s work.  Most fan fiction is published for free on the Internet, and it is easy (at least for me) to be kind of snarky about it all although Wikipedia says that fan fiction is “both related to the subject’s canonical fictional universe and simultaneously existing outside it,” which does make it sound pretty high-falutin’.

But P.D. James, Joanna Trollope, McCall Smith, and the writers on www.austenauthors.net  all have plenty of writing chops and creative muscle of their own.  When they do write an Austen-based novel, they can ask people to pay for the book, and people do.

So why won’t I read them?  People in psycho- (as opposed to physical) therapy occasionally succumb to what’s called the “myth of the monogamous therapist” – the notion that you are the therapist’s only client.  I myself succumb to the “teacher’s pet” notion;  I want to be the best client, the most likeable, the most interesting client the therapist has ever seen.

That’s how I feel about  Austen’s novels, that no one can possibly be as attached to these novels as I am.  It’s actually even more than that; the novels themselves are delighted when I am rereading them.  “Oh, yea,” they exclaim to one another,  “Kathy Seidel is back. She’s our favorite reader.  We love it when she reads us. “

I like the movies.  Emma Thompson fixed a lot of the problems of Sense and Sensibility, and Clueless  is awesome.  But these books – they suggest that other people may love Austen’s books even more than I do; they feel comfortable owning the characters for themselves . . . and as far as I know, the original six novels, those faithless little creatures, have not objected.

But I don’t need to know about it.




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3 Responses to Jane Austen and the Myth of the Monogamous Therapist

  1. Kieran says:

    I loved this!!!

  2. AndreaW says:

    I read the P.D. James book and liked it. I just told myself it was a coincidence it took place in an Austen setting. Of course, I have read everything by the late great P.D. James. I draw the line at Zombies–never ever!

  3. Mary says:

    I heart Emma Thompson. She saved “SEnse and Sensibility”. Loved that version.

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