How to Understand A Brief History of Romance Novels

Romance novels first appeared as literature produced during medieval times that was published in vernacular languages such as German, English, French, and Spanish. The history of romance novels is pretty straight forward, as it went through three main phases before it reached the place that it is today.

If you are a Romance Books author, it’s important to have a good understanding of the genre, and the many changes it has experienced over time. It not only makes you more knowledgeable, but also gives you more ideas and thoughts when you sit down to write.

Adventure, Myth, and Fantasy

What we now know is that the romance novel started off as a genre encompassed by themes of adventure, chivalry, myth, and fantasy. When the genre first began, many of the stories were written about themes that tied back to Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, King Arthur, and other male figures that were held high in society. All of these men were deemed to be heroes, and male characters in romance books were portrayed to be just that.

Men in these stories were chivalrous and unworried about any danger that they may face during their journeys. These books were all about adventure and completing the impossible. Chivalry and patriarchal ways of life were common themes in the first romance novels.

The Romantics

As decades passed, the form and focus of Romance Novels changed. Books were often now written from a firsthand point of view, usually a viewpoint from the hero or heroine that is depicted. The stories told often reflected love, courtship, and conflicts that always ended happily. Oftentimes, these stories were about lost and rekindled love, and the struggles that women went through to balance their lives between emotion and societal demands.

Many times poor women were depicted to readers as somebody whom they could sympathize with their social status, as well as their journey to find and hold onto love.

Victorian Age

In their last stage, romance novels about love and passion remained constant themes, but the idea of moral codes, especially those pertaining to marriage, were widely written about. Oftentimes, women were torn between love and the morals that come with marriage. In these novels, women were faced with breaking moral code, such as bigamy, to be with their true love. Novels during this time also focused heavily on quests for freedom, especially from the female point-of-view.

Consider books such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are perfect examples of the romance novel in its final phase. The genre moved away from chivalry and myth, and took a turn towards revolving around love, passion, and the true meaning and pursuit of both.

The romance and Erotic Books we need nowadays most often reflect the second and third parts of the evolution of the romance novel. When we think of the romance novel we think about passion, love, lust, breaking morals to be with “the one,” the struggles of love, and such.

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