Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226540269 Will Publish March 2018
Cloth $105.00 ISBN: 9780226540122 Will Publish March 2018
An e-book edition will be published.

The Danger of Romance

Truth, Fantasy, and Arthurian Fictions

Karen Sullivan

The Danger of Romance

Karen Sullivan

336 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226540269 Will Publish March 2018
Cloth $105.00 ISBN: 9780226540122 Will Publish March 2018
E-book $35.00 ISBN: 9780226540436 Will Publish March 2018
The curious paradox of romance is that, throughout its history, this genre has been dismissed as trivial and unintellectual, yet people have never ceased to flock to it with enthusiasm and even fervor. In contemporary contexts, we devour popular romance and fantasy novels like The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones, reference them in conversations, and create online communities to expound, passionately and intelligently, upon their characters and worlds. But romance is “unrealistic,” critics say, doing readers a disservice by not accurately representing human experiences. It is considered by some to be a distraction from real literature, a distraction from real life, and little more.

Yet is it possible that romance is expressing a truth—and a truth unrecognized by realist genres? The Arthurian literature of the Middle Ages, Karen Sullivan argues, consistently ventriloquizes in its pages the criticisms that were being made of romance at the time, and implicitly defends itself against those criticisms. The Danger of Romance shows that the conviction that ordinary reality is the only reality is itself an assumption, and one that can blind those who hold it to the extraordinary phenomena that exist around them. It demonstrates that that which is rare, ephemeral, and inexplicable is no less real than that which is commonplace, long-lasting, and easily accounted for. If romance continues to appeal to audiences today, whether in its Arthurian prototype or in its more recent incarnations, it is because it confirms the perception—or even the hope—of a beauty and truth in the world that realist genres deny.
Contents
Introduction
1          Romance and Its Reception
The Case against Romance
The Case for Romance
2          Merlin: Magic, Miracles, and Marvels
The Madman and the Seer
The Engineer and the Prophet
The Devil and the Enchanter
3          King Arthur: History and Fiction
The Sword in the Stone
The Court at Camelot
The Isle of Avalon
4          Lancelot of the Lake: The Morality of Adultery
The Lovers
The Realists
The Romantics
The Readers
5          The Quest of the Holy Grail: The Sacredness of the Secular
The Eucharist and the Grail
Penance, Pilgrimage, and the Quest
Significance and Semblance
6          Truth and the Imagination: From Romance to Children’s Fantasy
Castles in Spain
The Chronicles of Narnia
Harry Potter
Selected Bibliography
Index
 
Review Quotes
Peggy McCracken, University of Michigan
The Danger of Romance is written with beautiful clarity and the elegant erudition one associates with Sullivan’s work. I do not know of any other book that moves among so many medieval writers to detail theological and moral understandings of the nature of the marvelous and the miraculous, the relationship between truth and imagination, and the value of exemplarity. Sullivan’s book shows that such questions are part of medieval literary history and that they can articulate broad understandings of literary culture and of what literature does and can do. The range of this book is truly impressive.” 
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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