Sunday, February 25, 2007

Summer, Romance

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Northrop Frye in his book Anatomy of Criticism has pointed to summer as the season for romance. This isn't talking about romance in the sense of boy meets girl and all the things we associate with "romantic" in movies and books today here. It's not about sexual love, but about quests and knights and idealism... that sort of thing. We're talking here Arthur and his Knights. That's the typical idea of a "romance."

In Frye's scheme, the various genres are represented by a season, and summer is for romance. It is preceded by spring's comedy, and followed by autumn's tragedy, with the yearly cycle ending in winter's irony/satire. Of course, in the death of the year's end, we are promised the renewal once again of spring.

Fantastic literature and speculative fiction is often thought of as fitting into summer, following the story arc of romance. All the stories of young heroes going off to find manhood and glory fit into this mold. A more dystopian type of writing, which is a large subgenre of speculative fiction in its own right, would fit more with a winter motif. But, still, summer seems to reign supreme in many fantasy novels.

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