The Darcy Myth: Jane Austen, Literary Heartthrobs, and the Monsters They Taught Us to Love

Author: Feder, Rachel

Publication Date:

November 2023



Original language and publisher

English (USA) | Quirk Books

Territories Handled

France, Netherlands, Scandinavia

Territories Sold

Poland (Krytyka Polityczna, at auction)


Literary Non-Fiction

The Darcy Myth: Jane Austen, Literary Heartthrobs, and the Monsters They Taught Us to Love

Author: Feder, Rachel


“A wildly entertaining read.”—The Washington Post

The Darcy Myth explores the ways in which romantic fiction has contributed to creating a deeply harmful cultural notion that “bad boys” — à la the brooding, cranky Mr. Darcy of Pride & Prejudice — represent the path to true love”—CNN

“An entertaining and thought-provoking ride.”—The New Republic

“Feder’s study is a readable, entertaining contemporary analysis that is suitable for students new to Austen’s work and for discussion groups looking for a fresh approach to many readers’ favorite novel.”—Library Journal, starred review

“[The Darcy Myth is] the most interesting interpretation of the phenomenon that was and is Darcy.”—Maya Rodale, XO Romance

What if we’ve been reading Jane Austen and romantic classics all wrong? A literary scholar offers a funny, brainy, eye-opening take on how our contemporary love stories are actually terrifying.

Covering cultural touchstones ranging from Normal People to Taylor Swift and from Lord Byron to The BachelorThe Darcy Myth is a book for anyone who loves thinking deeply about literature and culture—whether it’s Jane Austen or not.

You already know Mr. Darcy—at least you think you do! The brooding, rude, standoffish romantic hero of Pride and Prejudice, Darcy initially insults and ignores the witty heroine, but eventually succumbs to her charms. It’s a classic enemies-to-lovers plot, and one that has profoundly influenced our cultural ideas about courtship. But what if this classic isn’t just a grand romance, but a horror novel about how scary love and marriage can be for women?

In The Darcy Myth, literature scholar Rachel Feder unpacks Austen’s Gothic influences and how they’ve led us to a romantic ideal that’s halfway to being a monster story. Why is our culture so obsessed with cruel, indifferent romantic heroes (and sometimes heroines)? How much of that is Darcy’s fault? And, now that we know, what do we do about it?

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