Reading the Romance

Sorry this is so late!

I found Radway’s arguments to be very interesting and unlike any other texts that I have read before. Prior to reading Reading the Romance, I never thought of the publishing industry for romance novels as a sophisticated means of churning out formulaic books that are guaranteed to sell. Radway reveals the many conventions that come together to form either a “good” or “bad” romance novel. I think that most consumers do in fact judge a book by its cover and title, but it seems that this practice is performed most often by readers of romance novels. Using data that she gathered from Smithton readers, Radway analyzes the literary conventions that readers would like to see in a romance novel that they are reading. It is not surprising that most readers are looking for a moderately detailed love story and a happy ending but do not want to read about bed hopping or rape. Radway goes on to connect this information to the idea that we live in a patriarchal society, and romance novels only serve to perpetuate the ideology that women are weaker than men. While Radway’s text is a great introduction to this field, I think that her lack of scientific data and limited sample size restrict the scope of her argument. I also found Radway’s section on escapism to be particularly interesting. Radway argues that these women read romance novels as a means of temporarily escaping their lives. However, I would be more interested to know why these women, and all women, want to escape and what they are escaping from. Is it simply a way to get away from the mundane aspects of their lives and go to a faraway place or is it something more complex?

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