June 28, 2004 12:00 PM

A Jane Austen Moment

With a slew of Austen-Inspired novels including Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife and Vanity and Vexation just out and another film version of Pride and Prejudice (starring Keira Knightley) in production, the Brit-lit lioness is having a revival. Why now? Austen scholars explain it all.

HEROINES WHO ROCK Austen protagonists are “strong-minded, they know what they want, and they’re articulate,” says Jacqueline Labbe, a reader in literature at the University of Warwick in Britain.

THE FIRTH EFFECT Pride and Prejudice, Emma and other ’90s films were “heated up” with hunks like Colin Firth, says Deborah Kaplan, associate professor at George Mason University; novelists and filmmakers are mining those sexier themes.

PAST PERFECT Austen’s “rule-bound society” offers a kind of escape from the chaos of 2004, says Claire Lamont, a professor at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

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