In 2007 Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez teamed up to release Grindhouse, a double-feature paean to 1970s action, horror and exploitation films. Studded with stars of every stripe and featuring plenty of stunts, explosions and sound-enhanced gore, the two films were Tarantino’s Death Proof, a revenge fantasy about a homicidal stunt driver who double-crosses the wrong squad of stunt-driving babes, and Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, a zombie flick centered around a psychotic doctor, his bisexual wife, the military and a stripper whose lost leg is replaced with a machine gun.

One day a close friend confided to me, “My mom has been meeting guys in chat rooms, pretending to be me.” It was 1999, in the murky days of online life when we were content to let AOL dictate how we used the internet. Imparting our deepest, darkest secrets to strangers? Sure! Why not? Many people I knew had wandered into chat rooms a few times for fun, but this woman’s behavior was odd. She was a great, seemingly normal 50-something single mother in every other regard. Why would she need to use her daughter as an alias to meet people? I didn’t get it.

Jane Austen published Pride and Prejudice 200 years ago, when the concept of the pop culture fan as we know it today—particularly as depicted in the recent novel and film Austenland, about an Austen–themed resort—had yet to be dreamed up. Nonetheless, Austen’s book got some positive reviews in its first couple of months, it sold some copies (she received no royalties), and the rest is history. Countless film, television and theatrical adaptations later, Austen’s most popular novel continues to inspire the kind of devotion that the Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey and Hunger Games series do. What’s the secret of her book’s longevity? We suspect it has something to do with Mr. Darcy.