Finding the Right Words

Authors of Romantic Fiction
  • Mary Eagleton


Roland Barthes in A Lover’s Discourse disparages the love story. He sees the lover’s discourse as possessed by ‘figures’ like Greek Furies that disturb and clash but have no narrative order. Fashioning a love story, believes Barthes, is to subjugate the excessive disorder of love; it is ‘the tribute the lover must pay to the world in order to be reconciled with it’.3 If this is so, it is curious how unsuccessful romantic fiction is in putting desire in its place. Although everyone in romantic fiction is sincerely looking for ‘true love’, it seems difficult to find even in the narrative form dedicated to providing it. Desire is tied to the impossibility of fulfilment. As the narrator claims in Anita Brookner’s The Bay of Angels, ‘Even a happy ending cannot always banish a sense of longing’.4 Freud’s suggestion is that the cause here is two-fold. First, ‘that something in the nature of the sexual instinct itself is unfavourable to the realization of complete satisfaction’.5 It is not merely that obstacles in the course of love — missed meetings, misunderstandings, partings, prohibitions and so on — increase desire, they are essential to creating it. Failing to find love is at once a torment, a pleasure and a confirmation of the love object’s ideal status. Second, since the original object of desire is the forbidden parent, the subsequent focus for desire has to be a substitute and, hence, unsatisfying.


Polish Count Romantic Love Soap Opera Break Glass Love Story 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Mary Eagleton 2005

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  • Mary Eagleton

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