The Manifesto of the Fan Fiction Author
~ Based on Jane Austen's famous "Defense of the Novel" from Northanger Abbey ~
Yes, fan fiction; -- for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with some fanfic-writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding -- joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever admitting them to be read by themselves, who, if she accidentally uploads a fanfic story, is sure to scroll down its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! if the writer of one fanfic be not patronized by the writer of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the Purists to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new fanfic to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the Internet now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the writer of the nine-hundredth published sequel of Pride and Prejudice, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some sloppily-researched essays on Northanger Abbey, with a paper on Mansfield Park, and a chapter about Emma, are eulogized by a thousand pens, -- there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the fanfic writer, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. "I am no fan fiction-reader -- I seldom look at fan fiction -- Do not imagine that I often read fan fiction -- It is really very well for fan fiction." -- Such is the common cant. -- "And what are you reading, Miss ----------?" "Oh! it is only fan fiction!" replies the young lady; while she turns off her computer with affected indifference, or momentary shame. -- "It is only "Anne de Bourgh's Diary," or "The Firstborn," or a Deathmatch; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language. Now, had the same young lady been engaged with a volume of Emma Tennant, instead of such a work, how proudly would she have produced the book, and told its name; though the chances must be against her being occupied by any part of that voluminous publication, of which either the matter or manner would not disgust a young person of taste: the substance of its papers so often consisting in the statement of improbable circumstances, unnatural characters, and topics of conversation which no longer concern anyone living; and their language, too, frequently so coarse as to give no very favourable idea of the age that could endure it.