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Jane Austen’s works may be perennially popular because they excel at the three kinds of adaptive advantage that Denis Dutton proposed to explain the pervasiveness of fiction. Based on brief personality sketches assembled from her novels, contemporary readers readily identify her characters’ mating strategies. They accurately match characters to actual behaviors portrayed in the novels, and would interact with the characters in ways that protected their own reproductive interests. Thus, Austen’s character descriptions provide low-cost, low-risk surrogate experiences of encounters with realistic personas, and promote readers’ understanding of others’ motivations and behaviors in order to regulate their own behavior adaptively.