I wouldn't dare bore you with a comprehensive list of every novel containing sexual explicit material in this post. Honestly, I'm not even sure such a document could be composed considering the longevity of sexual encounters in fiction and the endless push of new romance novels that would make gothic romance authors, like Shelley or Coleridge, blush. It's no secret that sex and romance sell. The question really is WHY?
The flood of romance novels is not a recent phenomena. For a bit of brief history, visit here. In short, though, romanticism started in Western Europe during the 17th century as a rebuttal to "The Age of Enlightenment", which influenced literature with reason and logic. The Age of Enlightenment made no room for emotions, experimentation, or individuality. Romanticism offered all of the aforementioned and more.
Although Germany and France still fight over who ignited the movement, it was the publication of "Lyrical Ballads" by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge around 1978 which more or less outlined the central elements of romantic literature.
Elements of Romantic Literature
The serendipity of love is often the first dose we all get high on, and it's this first taste that we become addicted to. In reality, it's rather hard to describe the feeling of love. Some say it exists; others say it doesn't. Despite your view, there are certain circumstances in which we grow close to another person and can't get enough of them.
In literature, however, no one will wait 6,000 pages for the writer to accurately portray emotions such as love, so let's go with the outline that stems from the original romantic movement in literature.
The main concerns in romanticism were the core feelings from human interaction and the horror felt by people when they started to embrace it. Remember, these were times when things went from peace to the chaos that ensued the Industrial Revolution. Let's face it, we all loved nature a lot more back then.
Romanticism also borrowed from folklore and popular art, which may also be why today's romance novels center around supernatural entities and the darker side to life. It's no surprise the bestselling romance novels focus on vampires, zombies, werewolves, demons, and so on. Although today's vampires may be a slap in the face to Bram Stoker, they still serve a similar purpose: We long for a stranger to come into our lives and reveal who we really are. Love could be considered a type of self-realization only someone else can show us. Nature was always associated with self-identity - being one with the larger picture - and the creatures in romantic literature are often associated with the wilderness. From there, you simply connect the dots. Or do the "chemistry".
During the era of Gothic Romance, Coleridge actually used the Kubla Khan (well as much as poet literally refers to anything Interesting subject, but a completely different story). What's important here is why we like romance so much. I've explained how and romanticism came to be, but now we must wonder why there's so much sex in the bestselling books. Ideally, romance and sexual encounters are different and should not replace each other.
So why would there be less romance and more sex now?
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