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Palgrave Macmillan

Women Writers and the Hero of Romance

ISBN 9781137426970
Publication Date June 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

What does the heroine seek from the hero in a romance – self enhancement or self-sharing? Submission or dominance? A place in this world or a world apart? Drawing together classics like Wuthering Heights and Middlemarch, epics from Ayn Rand and Dorothy Dunnett, and pop culture romances from The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Sheik to the Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey sagas, Judith Wilt depicts the feminine imagination conceiving the hero as 'the girl' in pursuit of a transcendent self, as the mother looking for a partner in community… and in fifty shades between these figures. The Catherines of Wuthering Heights are allegories of Leaving and Loving; Middlemarch both an allegory of will and a romance between the heroine and (her) Will Ladislaw; the dangerous lovers of twentieth and twenty-first century romance go to masochistic extremes. And the reader finds pleasures both radical and conservative in the controversial domain of 'romance.'

Judith Wilt is the Newton College Alumni Chair Emerita at Boston College, USA. She has written books on George Meredith, Walter Scott, and Mary Arnold Ward, as well as the theme studies Ghosts of the Gothic, and Abortion, Choice, and Contemporary Fiction.

Preface: In the Place of a Hero
1. Wuthering Heights: A Romance of Metaphysical Intent
2. Middlemarch: A Romance of Diffusion
3. Exotic Romance: the Doubled Hero in The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Sheik
4. The Hero as Expert: Ayn Rand's Romances of Choice
5. The Hero in 'Gouvernance': Family Romance in the Novels of Dorothy Dunnett
Conclusion: Kingdoms of Romance in Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey


"Always incomparable, Judith Wilt has never been better. This revisionist genre study not of heroes or heroines exactly, but of hero-worship in a certain strain of romance fiction, is learned, scrupulous, wide-ranging, witty, confident, and captivating, full of more ideas per chapter than in many whole books, inhabiting the novels at issue from the inside out with a tenacious charm of exposition that renders a potentially controversial argument as disarming as it is startling." — Garrett Stewart, James O. Freedman Professor of Letters, University of Iowa, USA
"[A] provocative monograph.... engaging" — M. E. Burstein, CHOICE
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