Deborah Yaffe


Ready for Lizzy?

By Deborah Yaffe, Jun 16 2014 01:00PM

Janeites come in all political flavors, and I have no desire to split our cheerful community along partisan lines. But I hope we can all agree that, other things being equal, we’d rather have a Janeite commander-in-chief than not.

And so it was with some satisfaction that I read the New York Times Book Review’s interview this past weekend with Hillary Rodham Clinton. She was the subject of Sunday's “By the Book” feature, wherein well-known authors discuss their reading preferences.

Last year, I catalogued mentions of Austen in this column and found that she came up pretty often. In the intervening months, however, she’s gotten barely a mention. But yesterday. . .

“Is there one book you wish all students would read?” the interviewer asked. “Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen,” Clinton replied. Then, having secured the Janeite vote, she went on to add Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa and Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s List to her universal syllabus.

Yes, I suppose you can count on a politician to list three titles when asked for one. And yes, these are inoffensive, less-than-dariing choices. But still. Give her credit for taste.

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