Online dating: What would Jane Austen do?

In her recent article in USA Today, Elizabeth Kantor speculates on what Jane Austen would think about the popularity of today’s online dating services. Delving back a few hundred years to the social conventions of the day, Kantor finds that Austen’s use of the highly popular “assembly ball” as a device for young people such as Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy to meet was a sign that the author approved of these gatherings despite them being criticized by some as too “new fangled.” Folks today who disparage the online services would possibly agree with those who thought assembly balls resembled a crass marketplace of eligible young women and men going on display for each other. They wouldn’t have had much good to say about speed dating either, no doubt.

Barbara L.


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