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Dear readers, you’re in for a treat today! Endeavour Media is sharing an excerpt of Gabrielle Malcolm’s upcoming release There’s Something About Darcy: The Curious Appeal of Jane Austen’s Betwitching Hero. The book is due out on November 11, but while you wait, enjoy this excerpt, and then enter the EPIC giveaway!

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Hero, Protector, Nobleman, Bastard?

Darcy is simply ‘Darcy’ to his friends, social circle and relatives – Colonel Fitzwilliam and Lady Catherine De Bourgh. Darcy is related to nobility through his mother and aunt, even though he himself never has a title. He does, however, have a ‘noble mien’.

‘Fitzwilliam’ is from the Norman French and Germanic languages. Fitz means ‘son of’ and ‘Wilhelm’ can be translated as ‘protector’. From Tudor and Stuart times Fitz was also ascribed to the illegitimate sons of kings and nobility (Fitzroy, Fitzhenry, Fitzherbert). Was Austen implying that Darcy was descended from royalty, but from the wrong side of the sheets?

‘Fitzwilliam Darcy’ certainly rings with patrician respectability and dignity, established property and money. Austen chose her language carefully, and the attention to the name conveys an impression of historic pedigree. It carries with it a tradition of Norman French and landed gentry. D’Arcy refers to an inhabitant of the town of Arcy in La Manche. It has different variants and spellings: Dorcey, D’orsay and d’Orsai. William de Arcai was a knight granted land in Lincolnshire by William the Conqueror. He was succeeded by William Daresai, who was later succeeded by Roger Arsi, and eventually Thomas Darcy – with the familiar spelling.

Darcy is distinguished, via this etymology, as a figure of authority with an extended Anglo-Norman heritage. There are also associations with the Irish Protestant landed gentry. With this there might be a nod towards Thomas Lefroy, a young man from Austen’s past. In Gaelic, O’Dorchaidhe (O Dor-kay-da) means ‘descendant of the dark one’. A stern, brooding, tall, dark, and handsome hero? The romantic significance of the Irish connection probably meant a lot to the author thanks to her friendship with Lefroy.

So, as we investigate Austen and her famous hero in a social, cultural and historic context we discover various factors that come into play when thinking about his origins. He has, perhaps, a ‘right’ to be proud according to Charlotte Lucas, with his ‘fortune’ and his ‘favour’. He does have great attributes as we will discover, as well as distinct flaws. This makes him an interesting, enduring character who has a versatility that might not be obvious at first.

Colin Firth, in an interview for The Making of Pride and Prejudice (BBC Books, 1995) described the clarity with which Darcy’s character comes across in the novel. Austen’s depth and tone helped Firth (and the viewers) to see Darcy as a fully developed figure. What Firth found interesting was the complexity and truth that lay beneath the surface of the character. He knew that Jane Austen had an instinctive grasp of Darcy’s inner self; even though she did not always express it, it could be discerned, and we can see it in Firth’s performance. Her great ability with character gives them an internal and external life that, two centuries on, can be understood and acted.

This complex character has, since his creation, been broken down, reimagined and reinvented in various ways. For 200 years he has been with us in popular culture and is now such a familiar figure he has gained archetypal status in the early twenty-first century. He is an archetype that can be repeated in different stories and remain recognisable. There are shorthand ways now, of instantly supplying us with the idea of Darcy in different media, literature, folklore and drama. This is what the following chapters will examine, beginning with the literary formulation of him in Pride and Prejudice, and taking in Austen’s influences from other novelists.

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About There’s Something About Darcy

For some, Colin Firth emerging from a lake in that clinging wet shirt is one of the most iconic moments in television. What is it about the two-hundred-year-old hero that we so ardently admire and love?

Dr Malcolm examines Jane Austen’s influences in creating Darcy’s potent mix of brooding Gothic hero, aristocratic elitist and romantic Regency man of action. She investigates how he paved the way for later characters like Heathcliff, Rochester and even Dracula, and what his impact has been on popular culture over the past two centuries. For twenty-first century readers the world over have their idea of the ‘perfect’ Darcy in mind when they read the novel and will defend their choice passionately.

In this insightful and entertaining study, every variety of Darcy jostles for attention: vampire Darcy, digital Darcy, Mormon Darcy and gay Darcy. Who does it best and how did a clergyman’s daughter from Hampshire create such an enduring character?

A must-read for every Darcy and Jane Austen fan.

Buy on Amazon

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About the Author

Gabrielle Malcolm

Dr. Gabrielle Malcolm lectures and writes about Jane Austen in popular culture and the global fan phenomena surrounding Austen’s work. She is the author of Fan Phenomena: Jane Austen and is a regular speaker at the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath, and the Jane Austen Regency Week in Chawton. She lives in Bath.

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Giveaway

Endeavor Media is generously offering 10 copies of There’s Something About Darcy to my readers as part of the blog tour. This giveaway is open to readers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. The giveaway will be open through Monday, November 11, 2019. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!!

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