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Byline: Carrie Rickey
Jul. 29--"Everyone can tell you when they read their first Jane Austen. It's like losing your virginity -- nobody ever forgets."
- Edith Lank, Janeite
The amiable body of men and women have assembled at the Ritz at the Bourse in Philadelphia. They have made pilgrimages from Bucks and Chester Counties -- one even interrupting a vacation in New Hampshire -- for one purpose only.
They have traveled great distances to see Becoming Jane, a screen portrait of the young Jane Austen (1775-1817) as embodied by the rose-cheeked Anne Hathaway.
The Ritz has furnished the tea, Miramax the muffins.
The atmosphere is charged with anticipation and amused dread.
Understandably, this is how some members of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) prepare for the coming of the second Jane renaissance in little more than a decade. Will it be worthy of Austen? Or just an attempt to cash in on what member Margaret Sullivan calls the "Jane brand"?
Janeites, as they are known, acknowledge that imitation is the sincerest form of show business. But some wonder why, increasingly, the tributes …