Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Price Reduction, A Lost Sociologist, Bestseller Lists Which Aren't Necessarily So and some New Publications

Some of you may be relieved to learn that The Routledge Research Companion to Popular Romance Fiction is now available in paperback, at a price much lower than that of the hardback edition. (Here's a link to the publisher's site, but obviously it's available from many other places too.]


* I found a reference to an article from the 2 December 1972 issue of the Spanish magazine Blanco y Negro in which María Teresa March, described in the article as an essayist and sociologist, reveals to Julio Coll that she is planning to write a study titled "De la novela de boudoir a la foto novela" and that she had, in a sense, gone "undercover" as a romance author, getting contracts with two publishers with the pseudonyms Laura Denis and Síndola Martin. March then gives details of how she was studying the romance: apparently, among other things, she studied the locations in which copies of her 12 novels as "Laura Denis" ended up. She also states that 

Lo que es falso, no es moral. El genero rosa es portador de falsas realidades.  Por tanto, es inmoral en cuanto no es verdadero. Y conste que, a pesar de ser un subproducto, a veces esta muy bien escrito. [That which is false is immoral. The romance genre conveys false realities. As such, it's immoral inasmuch as it's untruthful. And note that, despite being subliterature, sometimes it's very well written.]

It does make you wonder how someone can justify writing (and being paid for writing) so many novels if they think they're immoral. And she wrote a lot of novels, apparently.

Although I haven't been able to find any trace of a work of sociology by March, I was able to find was a list of 9 novels under the name Laura Denis and an indication that she not only used "Laura Denis" and "Síndola Martín" but that she also wrote as "Amanda Román" as well as penning Westerns as "Mark Sten." [You can see pretty small versions of all of the pages (16-18) via https://www.abc.es/archivo/periodicos/blanco-negro-19721202.html]

* An article in Public Books by Jordan Pruett discusses the extent to which "bestseller" lists actually reflect what's selling the most, which is an issue to bear in mind when trying to build a corpora of texts. Specifically with respect to romance:

the status of mass-market romance today is perhaps comparable to that of thrillers in the 1940s and ’50s. If it weren’t for the fact that the Times now publishes a separate mass-market list, some of these authors wouldn’t appear on bestseller lists at all (and even this mass-market Times list has recently been demoted from a weekly to a monthly publication schedule). This says more about formatting practices in the publishing industry than it does about the popularity of these authors.


-----New Publications-----

Henderson, Aneeka Ayanna (2020). Veil and Vow: Marriage Matters in Contemporary African American Culture. University of North Carolina Press. [This includes a chapter which "offers a close reading of black/white interracial romance in Sandra Kitt's The Color of Love (1995)"]

Michelson, Anna (2022). "Pushing the boundaries: Erotic romance and the symbolic boundary nexus." Poetics. Online First. [Abstract]

Wijanarka, Hirmawan (2022). "Cinderella Formula: The Romance Begins." Journal of Language and Literature 22.2. 481-489.


  1. "subproducto"

    I would so like a word face to face...

    1. I know! But you can still find some romance authors who will modestly dismiss their work as just escapist fun etc. I think it may well be a reflex to pre-empt criticism, and I can see how it works as a defensive technique, but I do regret it, because it accepts the denigration of the genre.