Why is the story of romance in books, magazines, and films still aimed at women rather than at men? Even after decades of feminism, traditional ideas and messages about romantic love still hold sway and, in our “postfeminist” age, are more popular than ever. Increasingly, we have become a culture of romance: stories of all kinds shape the terms of love. Women, in particular, love a love story.
The Glass Slipper is about the persistence of a familiar Anglo-American love story into the digital age. Comparing influential classics to their current counterparts, Susan Ostrov Weisser relates in highly amusing prose how these stories are shaped and defined by and for women, the main consumers of romantic texts. Following a trajectory that begins with Jane Austen and concludes with Internet dating sites, Weisser shows the many ways in which nineteenth-century views of women’s nature and the Victorian idea of romance have survived the feminist critique of the 1970s and continue in new and more ambiguous forms in today’s media, with profound implications for women.
More than a book about romance in fiction and media, The Glass Slipper illustrates how traditional stories about women’s sexuality, femininity, and romantic love have survived as seemingly protective elements in a more modern, feminist, sexually open society, confusing the picture for women themselves. Weisser compares diverse narratives—historical and contemporary from high literature and “low” genres—discussing novels by Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, Victorian women’s magazines, and D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover; Disney movies; popular Harlequin romance novels; masochistic love in films; pornography and its relationship to romance; and reality TV and Internet ads as romantic stories.
Ultimately, Weisser shows that the narrative versions of the Glass Slipper should be taken as seriously as the Glass Ceiling as we see how these representations of romantic love are meant to inform women’s beliefs and goals. In this book, Weisser’s goal is not to shatter the Glass Slipper, but to see through it.
Over one hundred twenty formula romance novels are churned out every month. These romantic fantasies for women are big business and earn huge profits for the companies that publish them. Love’s $weet Return examines the phenomenon of romance fiction, focusing specifically on one of the most successful book publishers in the world, the Canadian-based Harlequin Enterprises. Margaret Jensen details the rise of the company, examines the Harlequin formula, and evaluates the growth and impact of both Harlequin and its competition. She also assesses recent shifts in the content of Harlequins, particularly as they pertain to women's changing roles in society.
How do pictures tell stories? Why does the literary romance so often refer to paintings and other visual art objects? Beginning with these two seemingly unrelated questions, Wendy Steiner reveals an intricate exchange between the visual arts and the literary romance.
Romances violate the casual, temporal, and logical cohesiveness of realist novels, and they do so in part by depicting love as a state of suspension, a condition outside of time. Steiner argues that because Renaissance and post-Renaissance painting also represents a suspended moment of perception with "unnatural" clarity and compression of meaning, it readily serves the romance as a symbol of antirealism. Yet the atemporality of stopped-action painting was actually an attempt to achieve pictorial realism—the way things "really" look. It is this paradox that interests Steiner: to signal their departure from realism, romances evoke the symbol of "realistic" visual artwork. Steiner explores this problem through analyses of Keats, Hawthorne, Joyce, and Picasso. She then examines a return to narrative conventions in visual art in the twentieth century, in the work of Lichtenstein and Warhol, and speculates on the fate of pictorial storytelling and the romance in postmodern art. An aesthetic fantasia of sorts, this study combines theory and analysis to illuminate an unexpected interconnection between literature and the visual arts.
Anne K. Kaler University of Wisconsin Press, 1999 Library of Congress PN3448.L67R66 1999 | Dewey Decimal 809.385
Traditionally, romance novels have a reputation as being no more than trashy, sex-filled fantasy escapes for frustrated housewives. But books in this genre account for nearly half of the paperbacks published. Contributors examine the patterns used by the romance authors to tell their stories.