Thursday, October 23, 2008

Romance Research Round-Up: Happily Ever After--veinglory

I like to read the peer-reviewed research and thought I might share a few of the more interesting recent papers. The following is the first paper I have found that specifically mentions an erotic romance epublisher: Ellora's Cave.

"In contemporary culture the erotic popular romance novel serves the function once filled by the fairy tale. Fairy tales have been interpreted as encapsulating collective fantasies ... women see these novels as escapist fantasies. If we reposition the conflict in romance novels from the quest of a love that conquers all to a struggle for power through knowledge of the other, it becomes possible to read these novels also as fantasies of female empowerment."
[Lee, Linda. (2008) Guilty pleasures: reading romance novels as reworked fairy tales. Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy Tales Studies, 22, 52-66]

To any other audience, comparing romance to fairy tales might be considered an insult. However Ms. Lee is writing for a journal devoted to the fairy tale not as a children's story but as important narratives that "invoke a fictional fantasy realm and express a collective fantasy...."--often addressing very adult concerns and anxieties. She outlines the history of romance up to (but not past) Ellora's Cave's romantica and shows the clear similarities between fable and romance, including romances novels clearly based on 'Beauty and the Beast' and other clasics. She gently chides fairy tale scholars for neglecting the modern romance and limiting themselves to high literary re-imaginings of traditional tales.

p.s. I liked her point that many masculine genres have predictable plot elements (e.g. detective stories) but don't get hit with the "formulaic" stick. I mean, why do we have to find out who the murderer is at the end, that is so predictable.

1 comment:

Tuscan Capo said...

Some of the more intelligently written erotic romances I've read were re-workings of Fairy tales.