Xlibris Publishing wants to celebrate Valentine’s Day by celebrating some of the most famous romance writers in literature. More than writing fiction that has endured the test of time, these romance writers left marks on the genre of romance that have yet to go away.
Perhaps one of the most famous playwrights in literary history, William Shakespeare has heavily shaped romance as a genre. Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, and many others can be traced in popular consciousness as the sources of more modern tropes and conventions within the genre of romance, whether dramatic or comedic. William Shakespeare was a master of combining and synthesizing ideas, words, and concepts down into memorable lines and moments. Where he does not innovate he has executes in such a fashion as to be iconic.
For all its modern critics and values dissonance, not to mention countless rehashing, it is all this attention that marks Romeo & Juliet as a landmark of romance writing. While the idea of star-crossed lovers from feuding factions was not necessarily new by the time of Shakespeare, the story of Romeo and Juliet has left an indelible mark on romantic literature and on Western civilization. Neither was the idea of a love story ending in tragedy a revelatory concept. But again it was Shakespeare who popularized the idea in Western media. With such comedies as The Taming of the Shrew Shakespeare had unknowingly shaped the genre of romantic comedy as we know it today.
Jane Austen has produced such iconic romance works as Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Emma, with two other books, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, which were published posthumously. Interestingly, Jane Austen used her romantic stories to interpret, criticize, and even upon various aspects of British landed gentry and their society during the end of the 1700s. In particular she used her stories to make a point regarding the dynamics and roles of the different genders within said society.
At the time of her writing, romance had till then been dominated by sensationalist writings, stories with a predilection towards shallow and vapid escapism over actual substance or intelligence. Through her novels Jane Austen pointedly refuted such sensationalist romance, incorporating irony, realism, and satire to tell stories with actual characters with actual emotions, motivations, and conflicts, some self-imposed and some imposed by society.
Another writer known for her unique contributions to the genre of romantic literature is Charlotte Brontë, who wrote from 1846 till her death in 1855. Charlotte Brontë is the mind behind one of the seminal and classic examples of the romance genre, Jane Eyre. Charlotte has also written Shirley, and Villette, as well as poetry and some novels that were published posthumously.
Charlotte Brontë’s work stands out within the romance genre of her time for its focus on showcasing character’s inner turmoil and conflicts. Throughout such novels as Jane Eyre growing relationships bring out and either helps resolve issues or temporarily exacerbate them. Jane Eyre also established itself as a pioneer by delivering its narrative through the first-person perspective via a female main character. In addition, Brontë believed that art was enhanced and empowered when based on the personal emotions and experiences of the author.
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By Ian Smith