Monday, November 21, 2005


I've had trouble understanding why "Sorrows of Satan" is a romance. This is not a topic of speculation either, since Corelli gave the novel its proper title: "The Sorrows of Satan: or The Strange Experience of One Geoffrey Tempest, Millionaire: A Romance". According to the English Department at Brooklyn College, a romance novel 'tells stories of larger-than-life characters. It emphasizes adventure and often involves a quest for an ideal or the pursuit of an enemy. The events seem to project in symbolic form the primal desires, hopes, and terrors of the human mind and are, therefore, analogous to the materials of dream, myth, and ritual. Although this is true of some novels as well, what distinguishes the novel from the romance is its realistic treatment of life and manners. Its heroes are men and women like ourselves, and its chief interest, as Northrop Frye said, is "human character as it manifests itself in society." '

So how can we apply this?
1. I think we can all agree that larger-than-life characters appear in "Sorrows of Satan", considering Satan himself is a character.
2. Although adventure probably isn't the best way to describe the events of the novel, there is a pursuite involved. However, there is no pursuit of the enemy, but rather a pursuit by the enemy. Geoffrey does not even know that he has an enemy.
3. There is certainly no quest for any kind of moral ideal, but one might be able to argue that Geoffrey is looking for an ideal relationship with Sybil, or that Lucio seeks to improve humanity so that he can go back to heaven, but these arguments will require a lot of evidence and are best left for discussion in another post.
4. Primal desires, hopes, and terrors of the human mind are all themes found in the novel.
5. For what sets apart romance from other forms of novel is its "realistic treatment of life and manners." Corelli definitely comments on life and manners through "Sorrows of Satan", but how realistic is it? My opinion: not very.

Regardless, this definition helps me understand how "Sorrows of Satan" might fit into the category of being a romance novel. The novel is certainly not an ideal love story. As a matter of fact, the central "love" relationship in the novel (between Sybil and Geoffrey) is completely disfunctional. seeing that this definition does not include an aspect of a loving relationship allows "Sorrows of Satan" to fit semi-comfortably into the category of a romance novel. Still, if we consider only this definition, it does not work perfectly. What do you think? A romance, or other?


At 11:52 AM, Blogger Will said...

The Sorrows of Satan is definitely not a love story but could easily be labeled a Romance. That's an excellent definition you found and I think this book does fit into Romance under that definition.


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