Game theory—the study of how people make choices while interacting with others—is one of the most popular technical approaches in social science today. But as Michael Chwe reveals in his insightful new book, Jane Austen explored game theory’s core ideas in her six novels roughly two hundred years ago—over a century before its mathematical development during the Cold War. Jane Austen, Game Theorist shows how this beloved writer theorized choice and preferences, prized strategic thinking, and analyzed why superiors are often strategically clueless about inferiors. Exploring a diverse range of literature and folktales, this book illustrates the wide relevance of game theory and how, fundamentally, we are all strategic thinkers.
Michael Suk-Young Chwe is professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge (Princeton).
"Jane Austen, Game Theorist . . . is more than the larky scholarly equivalent of 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.'. . . Mr. Chwe argues that Austen isn't merely fodder for game-theoretical analysis, but an unacknowledged founder of the discipline itself: a kind of Empire-waisted version of the mathematician and cold war thinker John von Neumann, ruthlessly breaking down the stratagems of 18th-century social warfare."--Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times
"[A] convincing case for how mathematical models and fictional narratives can work towards reciprocal illustration."--Jonathan Sachs, Times Literary Supplement
"This is insightful literary analysis at its most accessible and enjoyable."--Kate Hutchings, Huffington Post Books
"Jane Austen, Game Theorist should join the list of strategic classics like The Art of War . . . on the shelf of everybody who wants to be effective in life."--Diane Coyle, Enlightenment Economics
"Chwe makes an argument for Austen as a founder of decision science in this 2013 book that boasts an impressive array of diagrams and hard-nosed textual analysis."--Evelyn Crowley, Vogue.com
"This is such a fabulous book--carefully written, thoughtful and insightful . . ."--Guardian.co.uk's Grrl Scientist blog
"[B]lends two very different subjects--game theory and literature--delightfully."--Siddarth Singh, Mint
"Well researched and with an excellent index, the book will appeal to Austen fans who can see her characters in another light . . ."--Choice
"When an intelligent, knowledgeable reader with a new distinctive viewpoint engages intensely with a great work of literature, the results are usually worthy of attention. There is much that is valuable in Chwe's book."--Ernest Davis, SIAM News
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Michael Suk-Young Chwe: