By Rachel Feder
What if we've been reading Jane Austen all wrong? A funny, brainy, eye-opening take on how our contemporary love stories are actually pretty terrifying. 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. FOR BOOK LOVERS: This book is for women in their 20s through 40s who identify as lifelong readers, whether their particular favorite is Jane Austen, modern romance novels, or none of the above. EXPERT AUTHOR: Feder is an assistant professor of English at the University of Denver and an internationally recognized expert in British literature. She has previously published a scholarly book on Frankenstein and edited the forthcoming Norton Library edition of Dracula. AUSTEN IS EVERGREEN: From the Pride and Prejudice adaptation Fire Island to the Netflix version of Persuasion, Jane Austen’s work is still driving cultural conversation. Fans, booksellers, and literary publications celebrate Austen's December 16 birthday every year. LIT CRIT FOR THE #METOO ERA: The books are from the 19th century, but the project of unpacking how our culture treats romantic ideals, gender roles, and the scary side of dating is utterly modern. FUNNY, IRREVERENT VOICE: Feder’s writing makes literary criticism feel fresh and entertaining.