Deborah Yaffe

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Electing Lydia

By Deborah Yaffe, Sep 24 2015 01:00PM

It’s not every day that Kitty and Lydia Bennet are implicitly compared to Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump. But it’s that kind of week on the Janeite Internet, where a blog headlined “Winnowing the GOP Field with Jane Austen” caught my eye, for obvious reasons.


The posting on DagBlog, whose eight anonymous writers comment regularly on whatever they like, frequently including liberal politics, is only peripherally about Austen: the author, who goes by the nom de blog Doctor Cleveland, uses the marital fortunes of the five Bennet sisters to explain a statistical concept, the Pareto principle, that he then applies to the crowded Republican presidential primary field.


“In 2012, no Republican could hold onto the Lydia Bennet role [i.e., the candidate you flirt with but don’t marry/nominate] for more than a week or two,” he argues. “This time, no Republican has seized the Elizabeth Bennet role [i.e., the candidate who is reasonably attractive and also marriageable/electable] for even a week.”


The blog offers a lucid technical explanation and an entertaining angle on Pride and Prejudice. The accuracy of its political analysis? I suppose only time will tell.


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