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Literature’s Leading Lovers
Non-Romance Romance

Literature’s Leading Lovers
  • Pride and Prejudice : A Novel (by )
  • The Lady of Shalott (by )
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (by )
  • Dracula (by )
  • Don Juan (by )
  • El Burlador De Sevilla Y Convidado De Pi... (by )
  • The Count of Monte-Cristo (by )
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With romance a central element of literature, from ancient myths to the forbidden love portrayed with delicacy in Chinese television, it’s no surprise that our favorite male leads in fiction tend to be great lovers. As flawed as they are ultimately perfect for their leading ladies, literature’s leading lovers capture our collective romantic imagination. Women want them and men want to be them.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice suffers from the fatal flaw of pride which masks a kind heart and a man utterly smitten with the young lady he wants to marry. It’s Elizabeth Bennett’s repudiation that sparks his transformation into dreamy hero.

Sir Lancelot du Lac of Camelot fame had it all: dashing good looks, military prowess, and King Arthur’s favor. Virgin damsels threw themselves at him. Married women cast their lures at him. Queen Guinevere fell for him and doomed the kingdom. Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote of Lancelot’s fatal allure in “The Lady of Shalott.”

Oscar Wilde portrayed charm, charisma, and handsomeness as fatal flaws when mixed with a superficial and selfish nature in The Picture of Dorian Gray. In the novel, Dorian’s quest for eternal youth and beauty results in a trail of dissipated living and broken hearts.

Vladimir III, Prince of Wallachia--also known as Vladimir Țepeș, Vladimir the Impaler, and Count Dracula--rose to literary fame as a suave, sophisticated, handsome, and lethal lover in Bram Stocker’s Dracula.

The life of every party, Jay Gatsby is rich, debonaire, charming, and a snappy dresser. Despite his enduring love for Daisy, he’s the one man who makes all the ladies swoon in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Another handsome charmer, Rhett Butler of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell suffered from a keen understanding of human nature that did not prevent his falling in love with a woman who loved someone else.

His picture appearing in the dictionary next to the terms “libertine” and “womanizer,” Don Juan’s love ‘em and leave ‘em exploits have been immortalized in literature and film, not the least of which is Don Juan by Lord Byron. He first appears in the 17th century play El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra by Tirso de Molina.

Ian Fleming knew just what sparked the envy of men and the admiration of women  in Casino Royale when he created Secret Agent 007, James Bond, the well-dressed, technology-laden, lethal British spy who loved her … and her … and her. Fleming went on to write 11 novels and two short stories featuring his legendary character.

Ruggedly handsome, clever, and filled with a desire for vengeance, Edmond Dantès is a humble sailor who falls prey to a powerful man’s jealousy and reinvents himself as a wealthy nobleman who slays Parisian society with diabolical wit and charm to avenge himself and take back the woman he loves. Alexandre Dumas called his tale of love, greed, and revenge The Count of Monte Cristo.

By Karen M. Smith

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