Home » Books: Romance Understood

It is an assumption conjured quickly, made with little more than a glance to a title: a book is seen, deemed a romance only by virtue of its cover design. It is thought unworthy, its pages seemingly meant to be mocked. Such false passions hold no appeal for you. They are instead considered weak, the idle writing for idle interests. They are to be ignored, passed over for far greater works of far greater meanings, abandoned to those who have no discerning tastes. You don’t suffer from such afflictions, however. The only genre you dare to choose is one of classic themes and carefully crafted allusions.

This is, perhaps, a too pretentious philosophy.

Because the origins of the romance defined it to far different terms than the common expectations of today. It was not to be lambasted by the majority. It was instead to be celebrated for its sentiments and dark sensibilities.

Established during the Medieval years (between the 11th and 13th centuries), romance began as an expression of high fantasy and courtly love. All tales were structured through verse, with meter given to knights and their adventures, the triumph of good over evil. Before such notions became the cliches of today, they were instead the formation of an entire literary movement.

And that movement was unique, blurring fables and the aristocracy, offering glimpses into both social position and the superstitions of the time. Romances were a commentary of the supernatural.

As the years passed, however, they were slowly changed – reflecting the needs of the public. They were deemed blasphemous during the 14th century, made chaste to appease the Church; the reawakenings of the Renaissance saw them turned into satires, considered too provincial for the new age; the Victorian era defined them to Gothic philosophies and tragic heroes, filled to all things fantastical and strange; and the 21st century brought them instead to their easier temptations, plucking themes from all decades.

And such books should not be refused. Romance is still a viable (and popular) genre, with a history that reflects the changes of the world.

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