Historical romance

Historical romance (also historical novel) is a broad category of fiction in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Walter Scott helped popularize this genre in the early 19th-century, with works such as Rob Roy and Ivanhoe.[1] Literary fiction historical romances continue to be published, and a notable recent example is Wolf Hall (2009), a multi-award-winning novel by English historical novelist Hilary Mantel. It is also a genre of mass-market fiction, which is related to the broader romantic love genre.

Definition

The terms "romance novel" and "historical romance" are ambiguous, because the word "romance", and the associated word "romantic", have a number of different meanings. In particular, on the one hand there is the mass-market genre of "fiction dealing with love", harlequin romance,[2] and on the other hand, "a romance" can also be defined as "a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvelous and uncommon incidents".[3] However, many romances, including the historical romances of Walter Scott,[4] are also frequently called novels, and Scott describes romance as a "kindred term".[5] To add to the confusion literary fiction romances, for example Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, often have a strong love story interest. Other European languages do not distinguish between romance and novel: "a novel is le roman, der Roman, il romanzo."[6]

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