Thursday, January 19, 2012

Romance Novels and Real Life Relationships

In reading Janice Radway’s Women Read the Romance: The Interaction of Text and Context the idea of women escaping in to romance novels was most striking. As I myself am not an avid reader of the popular romance novels of Nicholas Sparks or Jane Austen, I found this article to provide and interesting perspective. The Smithton women who indulge in romance novels overwhelmingly refer to escape as their primary reasoning for reading. Radway describes how the term of escape is used both literally and figuratively. The women can use romance novels to literally escape from their surroundings and withdraw their attention from reality. While I must agree that romance novels do provide an entertaining way to literally escape, I would argue that many other genres too accomplish this goal. The draw to romance novels, therefore, must be for the figurative escape into a world of whirlwind romance and happy endings.  In their interviews, the Smithton women explained that “They feel refreshed and strengthened by their vicarious participation in a fantasy relationship where the heroine is frequently treated as they themselves would most like to be loved” (47). Women can fantasize about being attended to and cherished just as the heroine in their novels.

Some of the quotes cited in this article about how women fantasize about a life and relationship different from their own made me question and further investigate the idea romance novels ruining relationships. I found this article that touched on this concept and provided some more perspectives.

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