The Refined Reader aims to take a look at the journey to where we are as readers today. It's part history, part commentary - providing a brief, conversational summary of various aspects of our bookish past and comparing it to how it has affected us in modern times. I love history, but I am no historian, and while I plan to do my research, if there are any errors, please let me know! This is as much a learning venture for me as I hope it is for my blog visitors!
Back in Medieval or even Greek times a romance novel did not center on people falling in love but on an idealized lifestyle of heroism, chivalry and adventure. Love often did have an important part to play but it was not the focus of the story, it was more the motivation. I'm not exactly sure why the genre of a romance novel changed from something quite specific in tone and scope to the much broader type it is today. It makes sense though that the genre today (with it's many sub-genres) branched out from the older form of romance which was more fantastical because it included elements of magic and was otherwise much less realistic. There was a sense of wonder and idealized history in the world of an "Old Romance."
While modern romances can also be pretty unrealistic - mostly because the actions and the circumstances of the characters' story can be too idealized - the stories are still based on the thoughts and emotions of people and not on daring undertakings and chivalrous pursuits so modern romances are a little more relatable to the average person. But modern romances can be a part of so many genres from fantasy to historical that it can still maintain a flavor of the old romance.
I do love a good romance (or love story) in the books I read, but when I find it the main focus of the book I sometimes find it a bit insipid. I like something more to the book. But old romance really appeals to me because I feel like it is a great escapist read - where people do heroic things for love or for justice and they face and conquer many dangers. I just find it more exciting!
What are your favorite romance reads? (Both modern and old romance if you like any of the chivalric classics)
Wikipedia / Wikipedia
Washington State University
Understanding Genre and Medieval Romance