Thursday, May 21, 2009

All Romance Is Alien Romance

At our latest Marriage Encounter meeting, the presenting couple read us an abridged version of THE VELVETEEN RABBIT, the classic story about a stuffed bunny who is made real by a little boy's love. The discussion question focused on moments in our married life when our spouse's love makes us feel "real." Coincidentally, the homily at my niece's wedding this past weekend touched on the same subject, with the message that when love takes us outside of ourselves, we become most truly ourselves. That strikes me as an excellent capsule description of the value of romance novels.

At our best, we make our beloved feel "real" by making him or her the center of our universe. I imagine one of the sharpest losses involved in widowhood must come from no longer being the most important person in the world to one other person. Fortunate widows and widowers continue to enjoy the love of children, friends, or siblings, but those people all have their own lives. It couldn't be the same as having a life partner who creates that feeling of "realness" in a unique way. Romance fiction of all subgenres captures this wonderful experience and allows the reader to relive it in all its freshness with each new story.

To achieve this feeling of being "real," we have to bridge the gulf between our self and another person who is also locked inside his or her own skull. If we are all mysteries to each other, and especially if men are from Mars and women are from Venus, in a sense all romance is "alien romance." By writing about unions between human characters and supernatural entities, mythical creatures, or extraterrestrials, authors make concrete the metaphor of reaching out to the Other that underlies all erotic love no matter how "mundane."

Margaret L. Carter (


  1. Margaret,

    My apologies for a scheduling glitch. I got my dates mixed up!


  2. Thank you for these reflections, Margaret!

  3. Well said! I *loved* THE VELVETEEN RABBIT. Now I wonder if that story primed me for romances at a very young age?