Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Novels vs Romances

One of my SDSU professors just told us tonight that novels will break your heart with the bitterness of the real, but might make you rich. He portrayed novels as embracing realism to unmask the ploys of the rich to keep the poor praying in the kitchen. We're reading DeFoe, Richardson, Austen, the Brontes, Virginia Woolf, and others. Nothing current, but he rasied the question, why is realism waning today, way beyond the slight shrinkage of a gibbous moon to a mere sliver of its former popularity? We've even started calling the precursor of the novel, the romance, by the same name: novel.

He talked passionately about the vampire novels/romances, wondering why readers have stopped wanting the secrets of how to escape the ploys of society and seek your own happiness. Instead they want to pursue dreams, and not their own dreams, the dreams that others foist onto them. It's as bad as craving a frog prince. No vampires out there, sorry. One student (male) suggested these novels are making young girls think stalking is romantic. Argh!

While I am not convinced that embracing rampant materialism would make people happy, or that realism is far more useful and powerful than romance, I do think this man cares deeply about his subject. I'm glad to be able to hear his thoughts for a semester.