A Natural History of the Romance Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

The romance novel has the strange distinction of being the most popular but least respected of literary genres. While it remains consistently dominant in bookstores and on best-seller lists, it is also widely dismissed by the critical community. Scholars have alleged that romance novels help create subservient readers, who are largely women, by confining heroines to stories that ignore issues other than love and marriage.

Pamela Regis argues ...

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A Natural History of the Romance Novel

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Overview

The romance novel has the strange distinction of being the most popular but least respected of literary genres. While it remains consistently dominant in bookstores and on best-seller lists, it is also widely dismissed by the critical community. Scholars have alleged that romance novels help create subservient readers, who are largely women, by confining heroines to stories that ignore issues other than love and marriage.

Pamela Regis argues that such critical studies fail to take into consideration the personal choice of readers, offer any true definition of the romance novel, or discuss the nature and scope of the genre. Presenting the counterclaim that the romance novel does not enslave women but, on the contrary, is about celebrating freedom and joy, Regis offers a definition that provides critics with an expanded vocabulary for discussing a genre that is both classic and contemporary, sexy and entertaining.

Taking the stance that the popular romance novel is a work of literature with a brilliant pedigree, Regis asserts that it is also a very old, stable form. She traces the literary history of the romance novel from canonical works such as Richardson's Pamela through Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Brontë's Jane Eyre, and E. M. Hull's The Sheik, and then turns to more contemporary works such as the novels of Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart, Janet Dailey, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Nora Roberts.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Academics and scholars will be happy to note that Regis's long-awaited study of the romance genre is finally here. In what may be the first book-length scholarly work on the topic. Regis (English, McDaniel Coll.) traces the genre's history from Samuel Richardson's Pamela to the present. Her excellent study adds much-needed research to the slowly but steadily growing body of scholarship on the popular romance novel. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"Finally, a true and insightful history of the romance novel. This book establishes the historical legitimacy of an important literary genre."—Jayne Ann Krentz

"Regis sets out to analyse the formal features and literary history of this much-maligned genre. . . . A thorough, sensible, and partisan book, arguing for romantic fiction as a genre that celebrates freedom of choice."—Times Literary Supplement

"Useful to those interested in the form and integrity of romance fiction, this volume joins such noteworthy examinations of the romance as Tania Modleski's Loving with a Vengeance and Janice Radway's Reading the Romance."—Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812203103
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 737,550
  • File size: 415 KB

Meet the Author

Pamela Regis is Professor of English at McDaniel College and the author of Describing Early America: Bartram, Jefferson, Crevecoeur, and the Influence of Natural History, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press. She is the receipient of the 2007 Melinda Helfer Fairy Godmother Award.
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Table of Contents

Preface: The Most Popular, Least Respected Literary Genre

PART I. CRITICS AND THE ROMANCE NOVEL
1. The Romance Novel and Women's Bondage
2. In Defense of the Romance Novel

PART II. THE ROMANCE NOVEL DEFINED
3. The Definition
4. The Definition Expanded
5. The Genre's Limits

PART III. THE ROMANCE NOVEL, 1740-1908
6. Writing the Romance Novel's History
7. The First Best Seller: Pamela, 1740
8. The Best Romance Novel Ever Written: Pride and Prejudice, 1813
9. Freedom and Rochester: Jane Eyre, 1847
10. The Romance Form in the Victorian Multiplot Novel: Framley Parsonage, 1861
11. The Ideal Romance Novel: A Room with a View, 1908

PART IV. THE TWENTIETH CENTURY ROMANCE NOVEL
12. The Popular Romance Novel in the Twentieth Century
13. Civil Contracts: Georgette Heyer
14. Courtship and Suspense: Mary Stewart
15. Harlequin, Silhouette, and the Americanization of the Popular Romance Novel: Janet Dailey
16. Dangerous Men: Jayne Ann Krentz
17. One Man, One Woman: Nora Roberts

Conclusion

Works Cited
Index
Acknowledgments

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 30, 2010

    An invaluable analysis of an unfairly maligned genre

    Although i've been writing romance for over 20 years, I got valuable new insights into my own genre by reading this book. I highly recommend it for lovers of the genre. Detractors of romance would gain even more by reading it.

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