The UVic Writer's Guide


Romance is a medieval narrative genre and a precursor of the novel. Written at first in verse (as in the works of Chretien de Troyes or the Gawain poet), and later in prose (Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur), romance generally differs from epic in the following ways: its subject is love; it has a courtly setting; and the fortunes of the protagonist relate more to the individual than to society as a whole.

In romance the lady is always extraordinarily beautiful, and her chivalrous lover proves his worthiness of her favour by going on adventures to show off his prowess in arms. However, romances vary a great deal in form and evade general definitions. For instance, the story may deal with married love as well as adultery; the protagonist may be male or female; and the subject matter may be treated ironically or allegorically.

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated May 13, 1995