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Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Welcome H.G. Martin
Not knowing very much about romance novels, I decided to research them a little bit and I came up with some factoids that I hope you will find interesting. First of all, did you know that in many Western European countries, the word for novel is “roman,” meaning romance? I knew this one from all the years of high school and college French I took. The reason for that is because the first word used to describe the long form narrative—that we in the U.S. call a novel—was “romance.” The word “romance” originally referred to any language that was derived from the Roman language—Latin—such as French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. The term “novel” didn’t come into use until about the 16th Century, and originally meant a work that was, compared to a romance, much shorter.
So, at one time, every work of long fiction was a romance.
One of the earliest romance novels, published in 1740, was Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, by Samuel Richardson, the first popular novel to be based on a courtship, from the perspective of the heroine. This book also had the distinction of being one of the first best-sellers.
Depending on how you define the term “modern romance novel,” it could be said that this genre was born in 1972, with the novel, The Flame and the Flower, which was the first romance novel to “follow the principals into the bedroom.”
So there you go. Romance novels have a grand tradition. And they make some writers a whole lot of money, which I appreciate.