As this is the time of year to celebrate St. Valentine’s day, I thought I would take a look at ‘Romantic Literature’. We all love a good romance and always hope that the couple will overcome the odds and can be together. There is nothing more satisfying than when love is found and is mutually reciprocated. There is nothing more tragic than a love that can’t be fulfilled.
“I have for the first time found what I can truly love—I have found you. You are my sympathy—my better self—my good angel—I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you—and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.” —Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
“Whatever our souls are made out of, his and mine are the same . . . If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.” —Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
What Is Romance In Literary Terms?
In the strictest academic terms, a romance is a narrative genre in literature that involves a mysterious, adventurous, or spiritual story line where the focus is on a quest that involves bravery and strong values, not always a love interest. However, modern definitions of romance also include stories that have a relationship issue as the main focus. https://literaryterms.net/romance/
The quotes above from sisters, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, would be good examples of Gothic romance.
‘In Gothic romance, the settings are usually in distant regions and the stories feature dark and compelling characters. They became popular in the late 19th century and usually had a sense of transcendence, supernatural, and irrationality.’
‘Historical romance takes place in times long past and appears romantic due to the adventure and wildness of the time. This also provides value and meaning to the lifestyle of the characters.’
‘Contemporary romance focuses on a love relationship and has a happy ending. There are two ways these romance novels are written: as a series or category romance (the author writes a succession of books that fit a theme or follow a storyline) or as a single-title romance.’
Looking at these categories, I feel I am mostly drawn to the Gothic romance as I was drawn to the passion of the Bronte’s and I am also drawn to the underlying passion of Jane Austen.
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony. Half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever.” —Jane Austen, Persuasion
And now for a confession… I love the film, Gone With The Wind but I have never read the book…so I will finish with a quote from it.
“You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.” —Margaret Mitchell, Gone With The Wind
Whatever category of romantic literature you enjoy, I hope you had a romantic Valentine’s Day and whether you did or you didn’t I hope you can lose yourself in some romantic novel that moves you.