We start our voyage out with Robinson Crusoe and often go on to Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy — fine, weird novels that seem to hail from a civilization a million light years from our own. Then, we arrive home, on Planet Austen. The relief in the classroom is palpable; the energy of class discussion spikes. It’s certainly not that my students mistake Austen’s world for our own: after all, her novels revolve around the make-or-break perils of a highly ritualized marriage market. Rather, it’s Austen’s smart girl voice: peppery, wry, eye rolling — that seems so close to modern consciousness. Austen could be gal pals with Tina Fey and Lena Dunham; she talks to us directly, bridging time and custom.