The Darcy Myth

A funny, brainy, eye-opening take on how our contemporary love stories are actually pretty terrifying. Why is our culture so obsessed with cruel & indifferent lovers? Examines romantic narratives ranging from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to Sally Rooney’s Normal People to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight and beyond.

You already know Mr. Darcy—at least you think you do! The brooding, rude, standoffish romantic hero of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Darcy initially insults and ignores our 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 relationships. 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, internationally recognized 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? Ranging from Twilight to Taylor Swift and from Lord Byron to The Bachelor, The Darcy Myth is a book for anyone who loves thinking deeply about literature and culture— whether they love Jane Austen or not.