definition: a fictional prose narrative of considerable length
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Definition: a fictional prose narrative of considerable length
1. Has a unified plot2. Focuses on the psychological
treatment of its characters3. Adopts the mode of realism or
"the attempt to represent accurately the actual world; a literary movement that developed in reaction to the artificialities of romantic literature and melodramatic drama and that tended to focus on the lives of ordinary people, to use the language of daily speech, and to develop themes that offered social criticism and explored the problems of mundane life" (Harbrace Anthology of Literature 1188)
(1)Realism rose to prominence in the nineteenth century, but texts earlier and later than this period can be realist.
(2) In literary studies, the adjective for realism (as discussed here) is “realist” (not “realistic”).
(3) Introduction to Literature has a definition of this term in its glossary as well.
A narrative characterized by exotic adventure rather than by
the realistic depiction of character and scene.
1. Its characters are stereotypes and are clearly divided into good and evil. Some stock romance characters are the kidnapped princess, the greedy and cruel aristocrat, the knight in shining armour, the unfairly deposed prince, and the loyal servant.
2. Virtue wins over vice.
3. The plot deals with extraordinary, action-filled events. Romances have little interest in the daily lives of ordinary people.
4. A love relationship often is a key element in the plot, but it is not the only element. Usually the male and female protagonists are thwarted in their love initially, though their love prevails by the story's end.
Characteristics of Romance (cont.)5. Nostalgia for the past characterizes
romance. Romance gained popularity in the European Middle Ages (Medieval Period); even in later centuries, romances often had medieval settings, which added to romance’s exoticism and reflected a longing (nostalgia) for what at least seemed to be simpler times.
Romance is about “what used to be” or “what should or could be,” whereas
realism is about “what is.”
-particularly in the 19th century, the novel was associated with romance. The middle ages was a popular focus.
-in fact, the equivalent word for “novel” in some European languages derives from the word “romance” (e.g., roman in French, Roman in German, romanza in Italian).
-Most novels published today are romance (e.g. mystery, spy, chick lit, fantasy), not realist
-Realism describes life as people actually experience it (the good, the bad and especially what lies in-between). Romance is interested in an idealized past, a morally clear present, or in an astonishing future.
-the term “romance novel” today refers to a novel whose central focus is a love relationship. In this course, we are not using the word “romance” in that way.
-It’s possible that a novel can have elements of both romance and realism.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), Russian-American writer
Born in Russia, his family fled the Bolshevik Revolution, living in England and Germany. He moved to the U.S. in 1940 to flee Nazism (his wife was Jewish).
He became an American citizen soon after he arrived in the U.S.
He grew up speaking English, French and Russian. He wrote his novels in Russian and English.
He was famous in his lifetime, particularly for his novel Lolita (1955).