Aug. 11th, 2013

tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
The other day, a few Twitter friends were retweeting a blog post by Jeannie Lin, who writes Harlequin romances set in the Tang Dynasty period: A historical perspective: Are my happy endings realistic? Responding to the apparently frequent criticism that her happy endings are "unrealistic, clichéd, convenient", Lin posed an interesting set of questions:
  • Are my happy endings unrealistic because I have failed to execute?

  • Are my happy endings unrealistic because they are perceived to be anachronistic for the time period?

  • Are my happy endings unrealistic, but in line with the genre I write in? (In which case, unrealistic, but expected?)

  • Are my happy endings perceived as more unrealistic than other comparative works that are set in familiar Western settings because imperial China is perceived as more harsh, primitive, unyielding than Western culture?

  • Is it harder to envision a happy ending in an alien or “other” culture because HEA is tied intimately to ideas of comfort, safety and familiarity where the “other” is inherently not comfortable, safe or familiar?
This fascinated me, because Chinese historical romances unfailingly hit me square in the id in a way that Regency and other Western mainstream romances never do-- and the majority of my favourite Chinese romances are, you guessed it, epic tragedies. But why not a happy ending? As Lin points out, it's not like the concept of two lovers actually getting married, living harmoniously together, and having many successful progeny is unknown in Chinese literature.

Musings about Chinese romances and endings )

So, what do the rest of you think about Chinese period romances and happily-ever-afters? Is Jeannie Lin being judged fairly?

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