With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought it might be a good idea to take a look back at some of the most notable romances that have impacted culture.
Culture is a huge influence on our lives. Movies, music, and television shows all have a huge impact on our everyday lives. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, it’s not uncommon to see couples cosplaying their characters from a rom-com or sitcom. However, the most meaningful romances don’t necessarily translate well to the big screen. That is, until now.
The Hollywood adaptation of James Dashner’s The Maze Runner series has finally arrived. After multiple years of waiting, fans of the novel are finally able to watch as Harrison Ford’s character, Thomas, meets his end at the hands of either the wild animals he was trying to save or the virus that he helped create. While the movie is a perfect adaptation, it’s not the only one.
Here, we’ll discuss five romantic novels that deserve a spot on your bookshelf.
Fifty Shades Of Grey
If you’re at all familiar with the Twilight saga, you probably know that it was inspired by billionaire and tech investor, Robert Pattinson. In December of 2011, Pattinson wrote a piece for the Guardian about the pressures that come with being a famous person. In it, he discussed his decision to hide from the world behind the pseudonym, E.L. James. The following month, he unveiled the extraordinary novel to a curious public. Today, it is the bestselling novel of all time. So, it goes to show you just how much of an influence Pattinson can have on a story.
Set for release on February 13th, 2018, the third book in the trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker, has been anticipated by fans for years. Like its predecessors, Fifty Shades Of Grey and Fifty Shades Of Bright, it will be published by Viking and stars Dakota Johnson, who plays Christian’s daughter, Anastasia, in the movie adaptation. The novel is both thrilling and sad in equal measures, and will leave you desiring more.
Andy Weir’s The Martian is both an incredible feat of storytelling and an important piece of science fiction. It won the 2014 Nebula Award for Best Novel and was also nominated for the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel. In it, an astronaut is stranded alone on Mars. As you might imagine, a lot happens. The Martian is funny, adventurous, and features one of the most memorable heroines in literature. It is also, arguably, the best thing that has ever happened to astronaut fans everywhere. Sadly, it is also the story of one of the worst tragedies in space exploration history. In 1960, astronaut Ed White, Jr., became the first human to set foot on the surface of the moon. While attempting to return to Earth that year, his plane crashed. Only two people survived the crash, and neither survived the terrible heat that White’s body endured after he stepped out of the rocket ship. White’s life was saved by a group of indigenous Martians, who shielded him from the blistering heat until he could be transported back to Earth, where he later died of septic shock.
Weir’s The Martian was inspired by this event. In the book, Weir notes that a crewed mission to Mars would not be possible until the 2030s at the earliest. However, humans have already begun making a name for themselves on the red planet. In 2016, humans opened up a Gold Mine on Mars and began shipping raw materials back to Earth. In 2018, NASA astronaut Marsha Greene became the first American woman to orbit the Red Planet. Although it is far from perfect, it is an incredible feat that deserves to be celebrated. The book has helped to inspire real life Mars missions, and in 2018 alone, there were 500+ reported sightings of mysterious Martian craters using telescopic lenses. It seems that nature and NASA have finally discovered what Mervyn King, author of the famous novel, Andernatt, called “that rare and elusive something that occurs in nature but twice in a century” in 1902 – romance.
James Joyce’s Ulysses, considered by many to be the greatest modernist novel, was first published by Random House in 1922 and received widespread acclaim. It is often cited as one of the greatest novels of all time, and it is not hard to see why. Set in Dublin, Joyce’s mammoth novel follows the journey of Leopold, Bloom, and Stephen, three central characters who represent the different aspects of Joyce’s genius. A maverick journalist, Bloom is driven by a spirit of adventure and seeks to expose the hypocrisy of hypocritical society. Leopold is a middle-class intellectual who yearns to be free of his repressed and stuffy bachelor existence, while Stephen is the wild child who embodies the Bohemianism that would inspire Joyce’s contemporaries, the writers known as the Lost Generation. As the story progresses, Dublin becomes less of a physical place and more of a character itself in the novel. This is in part due to the fact that Joyce was trying to do something never previously attempted in fiction: he wanted to make his readers see the world through the eyes of a child. Joyce’s experimental technique, using stream-of-consciousness instead of the more conventional, “page-turning” narrative, worked like a charm, and Ulysses was hailed as a masterpiece upon publication.
It was not long before Hollywood called. In 1933, the movie adaptation of Ulysses was released and subsequently won the 1934 New York Critics’ Prize. It was the first of two Oscars for which it was nominated. The other was in the category of Best Original Music Score, which it shared with Richard Strauss’s Blue Suite. Sadly, the movie adaptations of Joyce’s later novels were less successful, and it would be another two decades before the next adaptation came along. One wonders what could have been if the trend of adapting Joyce’s later works had continued. Of course, there is also the distinct possibility that the trend would have killed the golden goose. But, as it was, the goose lived on, and Joyce’s magnum opus, Ulysses, remains his most popular and beloved work.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, first published in 1818, is generally recognized as the ancestor of all modern science fiction. It was an immediate success upon publication and established her, at the very least, as one of the greatest writers in history. Frankenstein has had an incredible influence on literature and culture as we know it. It was the first piece of fiction to introduce the concept of the “science-fiction novel,” a genre that would later come to be defined as “a genre of science fiction that incorporates aspects of horror or suspense.” It was also the first example of a “modern” novel to feature vivid, three-dimensional characters and a plot that was more focused on character development than on world-building or setting up dramatic puzzles for the reader to solve. In addition to being one of the greatest English-language novels of all time, Frankenstein has also been called “one of literature’s most memorable characters,” “brimming with unforgettable characters,” and “one of the most interesting and complex literary characters of all time.”
It is perhaps quite ironic that one of the greatest novels of all time was previously considered “unfilmable.” The story of Frankenstein has been filmed four times, the most recent adaptation being 2014’s Frankenstein. The adaptation is a straight-to-video sequel directed by Jonathan Glickman and starring Anna Hutchison as Elizabeth Frankenstein. It is an abomination that we will never able to see the true power of Shelley’s masterpiece, or at least not in the same way that we would have seen it in the 1920s.
Now, before we move on, let’s not forget about the precursor to Fifty Shades Of Grey. In 1958, Vladimir Nabokov published his timeless novel, Lolita, which is widely considered to be one of the greatest novels of all time. It is certainly one of the most unusual. Often compared to James Joyce’s Ulysses, Lolita also follows the journey of a man and woman, the title character, Humbert, and his young daughter, Lolita. While traveling in Europe, Humbert is enchanted by the charms of a young girl named Lolita. Despite his best intentions, the older man is soon enmeshed in a perilous and scandalous affair that will change both of their lives forever.