We explain what the romantic novel is, its origin and the language in which it is narrated. In addition, its general characteristics, examples and more.
What is the romance novel?
Novels are literary works characterized by being written in prose and narrating actions that are partially or totally fictitious. Likewise, it is defined by its extension, since it is longer than the stories , it can also present a character that is not totally linear and several intertwined stories.
The plots are usually complex, with more than one character and sometimes even several narrators . Three main elements can be found in every novel: the action -that is, the events that take place-, the environment -scenario or context- and the characters. As for its structure, it consists of a presentation , development and outcome .
The romantic novel has particular nuances in this genre, since it narrates about very precise events: love, death (as two sides of the same coin) and the feeling of loss and abandonment in front of the world.
Characteristics of the romance novel :
The romantic novel arises with Romanticism (19th century) and narratively expresses the lyrical force of this movement, which had a strong impact in Germany and England , whose predominant characteristics were subjectivism and a new sensitivity.
The novel of this time, then, worships irrationality . It is very marked by feelings of melancholy and loneliness and maintains an escapist attitude towards time , going back to historical times that fervently yearn for the ideals they pursue to be present in them.
The metaphor is one of the main resources of the romantic novel.
The language of romantic novels is defined by being very descriptive , frequently using turns of phrase and metaphor as a fundamental weapon.
idealization of nature
Nature is described in its smallest details. For example, there is talk of the sound of rivers, of birds, of perfumes . One does not stop appreciating in it, also, a metaphor of atmospheric feelings. The figure of the forest is frequent.
Among the most outstanding of the period are: “The Troubles of Young Werther” and “Faust” by Goethe, “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo, “The Lady of the Camellias” by Alexandre Dumas, “Frankenstein” by M. Shelley , “Ivanhoe” by W. Scott -creator of the historical novel-, “El martín Fierro” by José Hernández and “María” by Jorge Isaac.
The romance structures the action
Love tragedies are the axis from which events unfold.
In every novel, the characters are driven by something. In the case of the romantic novel, love tragedies are the axis from which events unfold . The feelings of the characters, in general, are overwhelmed. Take the case of Goethe’s “The Troubles of Young Werther”: love consumes him to the point of choosing suicide when it is not reciprocated.
Strong self presence
These works are characterized by describing, in a very intimate way, the torments of an individual , the struggles he goes through in search of his love and due to his inadequacy in the world.
The dream experiences are very vivid and this “I”, of course, is far from being the rational subject that is pondered in modernity . He is a scattered subject, who is snatched away by passion.
death for love
In the romantic novel, love leads the protagonist to a fatal outcome.
This is a consequence of exalted infatuation : total surrender to irrational, romantic feelings. Love consumes the lives of the protagonists and precipitates them towards fatal outcomes.
Goethe’s work was mentioned as an extreme case that leads to the death of the protagonist , but the work of the Brönte sisters -typecast as a gothic novel, which emerges from romanticism- can also account for how terrible this romantic debauchery is.
Attached to the Middle Ages , Romanticism had a very close link with respect to religion . But it was not the institutional religion that they venerated, but the one that arose from an inner feeling and the mystical union with God . In Goethe’s “Faust”, religious elements appear (for example, the figure of the devil).
Local color or nationalisms
Most romance novels are very accurate in their descriptions and tend to be set in a regional setting . This characteristic is very evident in the case, for example, of Argentina , with “El Martín Fierro” by José Hernández. The reference to localisms is considered as a precedent of Costumbrismo and Nativism.
Many writers narrate their own romantic events.
As stated, novels are defined by intermingling fictional and non-fictional events. Many romantic works are inspired by the writers’ own lives , or they magnify and shape vivid feelings. We can mention, in this case, the work “Memories from beyond the grave” by Chateaubriand.
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