Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

hlat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The stories were all about love conquering difficulties; about men acting the way men ought to act toward strong women; about faithfulness, love of home and children, family, honor, honesty, not being ashamed of emotions, and so on. I realized that a lot of the behaviors depicted in the stories were actually good role models for anyone (and the villains were usually pretty well described, too).
Back in the 1990s, I may have been learning from the TV show Highlander in the same way people learn from these books.
 

Neil

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The last (and only really) historical fiction I read was Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth and the sequel World Without End, both of which were made into miniseries. There's kind of a funny story to how I got into it, considering I'm a sci-fi guy and to me sci-fi and "hi-fi" are a little bit like oil and water, although I have seen the two genres hybridized with some degree of success.

So about 6 years ago there was this lady I used to work with who would read all of these romance novels. Sometimes we would talk and she and another lady kind of liked to be my "mother" sometimes and were concerned about how I wasn't really interested in meeting girls. I would kind of roll my eyes and think to myself, "You read too many of those silly romance books," and then reply that the dating pool was too small, my interests were too eclectic to really be understood by anyone anyway, and I didn't want to be subjected to someone who was going to tie me down in a place I didn't really want to be. Most of the time you end up having sex with someone you actually can't stand and relationships devolve into fighting and arguing and a sort of mutual parasitism, so why even bother? "I'll fall in love the same day I win the lotto," I thought. A few days later she brought in this book and was talking about how good it was. I looked at it and it didn't appear to be a romance; knights, castles, a corrupt church and nobility, and people trying to defend their dignity...My interest was piqued, and since it was the summer slow season and business was slow as molasses, I thought I might as well read a book to help pass the time.

The book turned out to be a real page turner. Unexpectedly, the book had several romances in it, which were all intertwined into the main plot, and the romance between the main protagonists was a major secondary plot element. I was not prepared for the numerous naughty scenes which popped up, some of which were tasteful, some depicting how depraved some of the characters are, with a couple more gratuitous ones thrown in for good measure. Mrs. Romance Novel could tell if I was on one of the "good parts" by my facial expressions or the way I was breathing. After one part which was depicted in so much detail that it felt like I was actually there, I threw down the book and was like, "My God! This is as explicit as anything one might find on the internet." She giggled and said, "Yeah, but you can't stop reading it can you?" "Well, I have to admit..." I was rather enjoying the love story around the main protagonist, Jack the Builder, as much as the knights and castles, politics surrounding the town and church, and other "guy" stuff. I could really admire his character and his life as depicted in the novel actually spawned a couple of dreams with some strongly sexual parts. For about three months afterwards I was actually somewhat interested in finding a girlfriend and acting out some of the events in the novel in some small way, but was fortunately able to subjugate the urge before it got too far out of hand.

I never thought I would be discussing such things on the Cassiopaea forum because it is kind of a naughty novel, but I can recommend it to guys who don't want to go into a full-bore romance novel. The series actually tones down the X-rated content a bit and the novels are so lengthy that they still have to omit details and truncate certain subplots, but they tried hard to keep the main story arc intact. I don't know if I could really handle a novel where the romance is front and center; if the characters are interesting and the sex is cozy it just sounds like a way to get me all hot and bothered while longing for a connection that's pretty much impossible to forge in this environment. It's like an unattainable and somewhat anachronistic ideal that's a special kind of torture for a young single guy. Nevertheless, there are good stories out there and I do dabble in them from time to time, they can be quite inspirational, but fiction reading is not a priority of mine.
 

Approaching Infinity

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Well, I finally provoked Ark into reading one and he can hardly put it down. For awhile, he just asked me about the plots and I would tell him the story. He liked that. Then, I would read some entertaining passages to him (usually funny/risque) and he would laugh. Then, I told him the plot of one particular book and since he was looking for something to read before sleeping, I gave it to him and suggested he try it.

The kids were teasing him about it today and asked him if the younger guys should read it and he said "naw, young guys don't like reading about real men and this guy in the story is a REAL MAN."

LOL!

Inquiring minds want to know which one Ark's reading. Just out of pure academic curiosity of course! ;-D
 

duyunne

Jedi Council Member
.
Back in the 1990s, I may have been learning from the TV show Highlander in the same way people learn from these books.

One of my favorite shows. Practically the entire series streams here if people want to check into it: Highlander: The Series - full episodes - all seasons - Engl.

There is also a series of books, and according to this site, they are "highly successful novels, which were published between the years 1999 and 2006. These novels were written by the New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning. The series is based on a blend of fantasy, breathtaking magic and thriller genres. The Paranormal Romance depicted in the series is very well appreciated by everyone. The interesting and passionate love stories with a twist in the form of time-travel makes the series a fun to read. The series comprises of eight great novels with the first one being published in the year 1999. It was titled ‘ Beyond the Highland Mist’ and was followed by the second installment of the series, which was titled ‘To Tame A Highland Warrior’. The second novel was also published in the year 1999. The novels of the Highlander Series are set in the medieval Scotland. Each novel of the series is a stand-alone type and feature similar story lines. The novels depict several time travels between the modern and the medieval times."

re: Highlander - Book Series In Order
 

Gaby

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I've never read this type of literature when I was younger. Only esoteric books or academic ones. Except for a short period of time before I found the cassiopaea website. I felt emotionally deprived back then. It used to be that academic books would entertain me to no end, but the time came when no academic book was able to nourish my soul. I then decided to do what others were doing while going to work: read. I bought novels from the local bookstore to read while in the metro and that felt like getting in touch with myself again. Shortly afterwards, I found the Cassiopaea website. So overall, I have very good memories about reading fiction novels and how it started a process of soul searching.

I think I will buy something by Georgette Heyer. The comments at Amazon are really good about her style and stories, they even say that she is better then Agatha Christie. The epoch looks interesting, it is fun to travel in time. To feel people, human relations, stories where passions are high. It is very important specially now that in this new paradigme that they want to create humans relations are nil, passion is nil, love is nil, etc. When we read stories like that we surely feel comforted.

I read three of her books and it surely feels like time traveling. She's a very good writer!

For me, the theme is a pretty universal one - it's about healing and getting over programs for the sake of another one and/or how love can conquer programs and scarring experiences. There's something different about reading stories with fictionalized characters and reading any psychology book. Some stories were so complex that it made me curious as to how the author would come up with a good ending. Imagining a new reality is a very good way to put it. As idealized as the stories are, I can't help but to notice how the soul approves. It surely helped me get over the worst of this year's madness. And the year is not over yet!
 

MK Scarlett

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you Laura for the thread. Interestingly enough, I was just discussed with my husband on yesterday morning, telling him how I often find kind of balance between historical-romance/science-fiction/fantasy books and more "scholar" ones readings. It even can have some connections between them here and there, as I usually read more "scholar" books during the day, while I reserve the historical-romance/science-fiction/fantasy books for the evening.

One of my favorite shows. Practically the entire series streams here if people want to check into it: Highlander: The Series - full episodes - all seasons - Engl.

There is also a series of books, and according to this site, they are "highly successful novels, which were published between the years 1999 and 2006. These novels were written by the New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning. The series is based on a blend of fantasy, breathtaking magic and thriller genres. The Paranormal Romance depicted in the series is very well appreciated by everyone. The interesting and passionate love stories with a twist in the form of time-travel makes the series a fun to read. The series comprises of eight great novels with the first one being published in the year 1999. It was titled ‘ Beyond the Highland Mist’ and was followed by the second installment of the series, which was titled ‘To Tame A Highland Warrior’. The second novel was also published in the year 1999. The novels of the Highlander Series are set in the medieval Scotland. Each novel of the series is a stand-alone type and feature similar story lines. The novels depict several time travels between the modern and the medieval times."

re: Highlander - Book Series In Order

I've read them all and can't wait to read the next one (Tome 9) which is not yet published. The author, Diana Gabaldon, explains that she needs three years for each Tome, and writes at the end of Part II of Volume 8, that she has accumulated a number of reference material necessary for writing the saga, which, in the twenty years since she began writing them, exceed 1,500.
The main male character, Jamie, is a kind of "warrior", maybe in the very sense Castaneda put it: impeccability, no matter the circumstances. That's how I see him anyway. While the TV show is pretty well done, I much prefer books that go much further into the details of the interactions between the different characters in the saga, and stories in the great History.

These days, I am re-reading the whole saga from Marion Zimmer-Bradley named Darkover. I prefer the French translation which is Ténébreuse, which sounds more poetic to me, surely because I'm French 😉. The mainly themes developed in this saga (from Wikipedia):
Several themes are explored by Bradley at length within the books of the series. Psychic powers, treated as a science, are a theme that places the books firmly within the category of science fiction, even in the books that do not have "Terrans", spaceships, or the "Galactic Empire". They can also be called fantasy, because psychic powers appear to be "out and out magic." Other themes are feminism, sexism, the roles of women in society, the roles of men in society, racism, social division (the Comyn nobility and the non-Comyn "commoners"), xenophobia and the clash of cultures, sexual taboos, fate and the horrors of war.
 

Adaryn

The Living Force
KristinLynne said:
I also agree that much can be learned of love, relationships and perseverance from reading these types of books, even more today in spite of the fictitious nature. I'm just not so sure if the males would be interested though... I've never seen one read this type of book before. It would be interesting

Those types of books are almost written exclusively by women, and I don't know either if that would appeal to male readers. Apparently, judging from Laura's latest post, it would - to certain men ;-D In any case, I ordered "The Beast of Beswick" (chuckle… my, the title and the cover are absolutely hilarious… but don't judge a book by its cover, right?)

I love historical fiction and for a little while have been reading Anne O'Brien's romanticized biographies of famous women of medieval England (talk about Earls and Dukes!). I'm a big fan of that era, and fascinated by English kings and queens of old. O'Brien first wrote purely fictional romances (citing Georgette Heyer - whom I haven't read - as an inspiration), before focusing solely on real historical characters and their lives. Her books are historically accurate and well researched, but the fact that, often, so little is known about some of these women, allows her much leeway in terms of describing their relationships, and their inner landscape/psychology.

So while those relationships are probably highly romanticized, they offer a glimpse into what a higher love could be. The characters are certainly not perfect and there are misunderstandings, conflicts, intrigues, in a dangerous environment where stakes are high. In the end, their love is strengthened as they come to develop a deep bond, overcoming obstacles and challenges (note: those books are not steamy at all, and the "sex" scenes are very tame and absolutely not graphic, focusing on the emotions experienced by the female protagonists - as those stories are told from their point of view).

My favourite novels by that author are her accounts of the life of Anne Neville (wife of Richard III) and Catherine de Valois (wife of Henry V and then Owen Tudor). The admirably self-possessed Richard and Owen, as they're described by the author, epitomize for me the "real man". She certainly redeemed Richard III in my book. Sadly, as this is reality and not fiction, those novels don't have a happy ending, but the author doesn't dwell on it, focusing instead on the lovers' journey and the challenges they have to overcome both as individuals and as a couple.

I prefer books that are grounded in reality so that I can indulge my occasional need for romance guiltlessly, both learning about deep, meaningful relationships (even if somewhat romanticized) while learning a lot about medieval England (my true love). As Gaby said, it's highly nourishing for the soul. Even if it's not something that you can or will experience in this life, you can "imagine" that it would be possible - for men and women, if not necessarily for yourself - in another reality. It's certainly an ideal to aim for, and reading those books sort of help me avoiding the trap of looking for "a relationship", as the ideal seems so unattainable - in the here and now - that you wouldn't settle for anything less.
 

Kari Baba

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FOTCM Member
I loved very much her "The Mists of Avalon" where fantasy, romance, magic and very powerful women are in the novel.

Yes, I love the Avalon trilogy. And I have the entire Darkover cycle in a collective edition. There are 21 books. And over the years I've read it completely 4 times.

There is another trilogy that I consider very special and worth reading: Diana L. Paxon - "The Daughters of the Nibelungs".

Diana L. Paxon was a very good friend of Marion Zimmer Bradley. They lived together in a writers' community for a long time. She also wrote some of the Darkover stories. Her style is of course different from Bradley's. But they have one thing in common. Both have the talent and creativity to create incredibly complex storylines and yet never be boring for a single moment. All novels are characterized by deep emotions and a great moral code of honor.
 

Mariama

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For me, the theme is a pretty universal one - it's about healing and getting over programs for the sake of another one and/or how love can conquer programs and scarring experiences.

That's why I have been going back to Jane Austen's work again and again, but I am glad that Laura and others have given me more options to choose from! We certainly need some food for the soul.

In Pride and Prejudice especially (I have read the book and watched the 1995 BBC production numerous times), but also in Persuasion, the main characters clearly get over themselves and learn to think of the other person. Both the men and the women in Austen's work go through some pretty profound changes for the better, which eventually makes their love possible. Not just that, the male main characters like Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth also admit to their love interest that they previously displayed some bad behaviour. It also shows the power of forgiveness.
 

Adaryn

The Living Force
In Pride and Prejudice especially (I have read the book and watched the 1995 BBC production numerous times), but also in Persuasion, the main characters clearly get over themselves and learn to think of the other person. Both the men and the women in Austen's work go through some pretty profound changes for the better, which eventually makes their love possible. Not just that, the male main characters like Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth also admit to their love interest that they previously displayed some bad behaviour. It also shows the power of forgiveness.

Persuasion is my favourite Austen novel. Pride and Prejudice is a close second. I love the character development in all Austen novels and how, indeed, the protagonists get over themselves for the other's sake, making their well-being and happiness a priority, while always acting in a dutiful and honourable way.
 
Thank you for posting and I was so hoping that this was the direction you were going to take! My mom read a lot of romances in her life time and as I was grounded a lot as a young kid and teenager, I would sift through them to find ones that I wanted to read. I also preferred historical romances and oftentimes would find myself absorbed in the stories. While relating to the protagonist with emotional issues whether it was from the male or female, then continuing through their journey to work through them and finally the end where they have found their happy ending, was my way of escaping.

Reading enough of them over the years and then later reading more of the murder suspense ones with the elements of the romance intertwined made me feel like the 'ideal' was more fictitious than the stories themselves. I just couldn't see anything of what the writers described as love in any real relationships that I had observed much less been a part of. I was so frustrating as a young woman to know and hope of finding these ideals only to see what was really out there was a sad parody at best. At least now I have a much better understanding as to why these ideals are not common place today.

I also agree that much can be learned of love, relationships and perseverance from reading these types of books, even more today in spite of the fictitious nature. I'm just not so sure if the males would be interested though... I've never seen one read this type of book before. It would be interesting.:lkj:;-)

Well, as was generally said, the area of romance with implications for self-improvement or to focus the mind is not the main focus for many at least consciously, you add to that that reading is not something that everyone does, or does it frequently and that be it specifically on this subject, in the end it gives the impression that there are not many men reading these books ... the people most given to reading this type of books look for "light" things merely to entertain themselves ... now we know that women prefer More romantic themes and focused on psychological relationships in their tastes, men by their nature will prefer other more energetic activities that are also of the "light" type and more other factors that are not worth going into detail, make men They are less likely to read this type of literature, nothing new in what has been said so far, but if you are a man and if you like reading and have a book of these in your hands and more if it is good,you enjoy it from start to finish , that we do not disgust romance and we like it much more than what the psychological reports appear and say, that although they do not deny it, a quick view of these above could generate a mental bias in which It is thought that the taste for romance and related things is very low in men ... it is a matter of seeing that we enjoy archetypal stories and the emotional load of these ... but to close and answer once and for all Your question, I give you an example of the bad Mexican-Venezuelan soap operas, they are a good example of something with enough romantic charge to which men are more easily exposed, I remember that in my childhood it was natural to go to school and talk about soap operas (I didn't watch them. :whistle: I really did not see them!, but I saw something, and as I grew up I saw something more at times), the "curious" thing is that the older and despite being more exposed to ridicule, the more was their taste for telenovelas, at home in The one that I live with more male companions, at least 3 of them spent time watching Chilean, Arab or Latin American soap operas in general and followed them periodically and without fail, there was even one that is no longer found that remained unchanged at the same time as He openly boasted of having seen (this sounds sure to you) "pasión de gavilanes" (Hidden Passion) about 3 times! (...), so I don't know how many men are reading this type of book for entertainment, but it is obvious that if one of these in our hands, many would enjoy it very much!
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
My favorite author of "romantic" genre is Maeve Binchy, a very good Irish author. Her novels are romantic in the sense that there is always men and women that are falling in love, woman that are in love with married man, stories about family conflicts, money conflicts, mistress and lovers, no explicit sexual situation but sometimes the result of sexual relation (baby). Her stories happens sometimes in the 50's and in villages where people like rumors about the others, live the dramas and passions of others, etc. A lot of emotion and also a lot of understanding about human relations. Maeve also makes us feel our humanity, or understanding our love relation, our relation with our kids or husband or wife. Very human. And romantic! This touch that is so near of the fairy tale, this touch that makes us feel, as readers, that life can be magic also. Or that in an ordinary life something new can happen, that mystery can happens, that everything in life has a touch of desire, of magic. The characters of her novels become like family members or your life, good or bad friends, more real sometimes that real people that you know in real life.

I was thinking that now even if you read a novel that happens in the 20 or 21 century it is like traveling in Time. We have enter a new era totally different from February this year. In the novels nobody is wearing a mask. Nobody is afraid to travel, to meet new people, to have adventures, etc. Nobody is afraid of being a hero. Now we live in another planet. That's why it is important to read and feel humanity in the novels we read.

Maeve Binchy
 
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