As I discussed last week, I was curious about the beginnings and the evolution of the romance novel and decided to do a little research. The genre dates back to Ancient Greece with 20 titles known today, though many of these novels no longer exist or exist only in part.
1st Romance Novel
The first novel to resemble today’s romance genre is Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, by Samuel Richardson, which was published in 1740. This novel is considered a best-seller at the time.
Pride and Prejudice
This brings us to Jane Austen. Her novel Pride and Prejudice, published in 1813, is still considered today to be the best romance novel ever written. If you want to study the novel’s characteristics, I suggest Shawn Coyne’s Pride and Prejudice: The Story Grid Edition. This analysis demonstrates why Pride and Prejudice is the consummate love story.
Elizabeth Reacts to Darcy
My favorite parts of Pride and Prejudice are the dance where Darcy is so arrogant that he refuses to consider any of the young women in attendance worthy of him. Later, in his arrogance, he proposes to Elizabeth making it clear she should be honored that he considered her worthy of his proposal. Her reaction is priceless. She is both appalled and amused by the proposal and his arrogance.
The turnabout is even more rewarding when Elizabeth discovers how altruistic Darcy is. Because he is an honorable man, he saves her family’s name from the total degradation her younger sister’s actions could bestow on her and her family. Jane Austen is a master at crafting this plot twist.
Following Jane Austen are the Brontë sisters, namely, Charlotte Brontë’s gothic classic Jane Eyre where we’re introduced to the orphan heroine and the larger than life brooding hero.
The Romance Novel Evolves
These novels are considered literary fiction. And they are now considered the predecessors of popular fiction. Next week, I’ll share the next evolution in the romance novel’s development to today’s genre.
I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. Enjoy a glorious summer, if you’re in my part of the world. Make sure that next week your time is filled with fun and excitement and God’s blessings.