The other night I watched a show about HG Wells and Jules Verne, the “fathers of science fiction.” Verne didn’t think much of Wells, but they both influenced a large number of science hungry kids out there, kids who did stuff like build rockets to the moon and come up with the theory of Relativity. It was fascinating stuff of fiction becoming fact.
And it got me wondering about something.
Samuel Richardson, a guy, wrote Pamela way back in the 18th Century. Pamela is considered to be the earliest Romance novel where the story is focused on the relationship and romantic love between two people. Yet he’s not mentioned as the “father of Romance” and he didn’t get his own hour-long special on the Biography channel. You think some really clever guy out there would pick up on the fact that the modern romance, the genre many bash as trash, tripe, smut you name it, came out of the so-called Romantic period of Byron, Shelly, and Keats, as well as Poe and Hawthorne. That whole period was steeped in the emotional, sensitive, aesthetic of nature and psychology.
Just like a modern romance novel.
Sure there was some social commentary going on in all that feeling, but it was escapism from the ills of the times too. That escapist need is present in Science Fiction, in Wells’ The Time Machine, and Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. So Those two get a TV documentary, while Nora Roberts, who writes science fiction as JD Robb, and bestselling Romance under he won name, gets poop-pooed as a serious writer because she deals with escapist, emotionally sensitive aesthetic of nature and human psychology.
I wonder if the RWA touted Samuel Richardson as the father of
“modern romance,” some smart man would jump up on a stump someplace and broadcast the fact romance was invented by a guy. Of course the feminists out there who decry Romance as a patriarchal shackle meant to keep women in under control, would just use that as more evidence.
But at least Sam, Austen, Heyer, and Roberts would get their own Documentary on cable.