The Incurable Romantic (research review)

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The Incurable Romantic by Frank Tallis (2018) is compulsive background reading for a writer of #historicalromance. Falling in love is “a combustable state that reproduces the symptoms of psychiatric illness” and, when love goes wrong, things can become “twisted and ugly”. Written with the verve of a novelist and the enthusiasm of an expert, this book takes case histories from Tallis’ practice as a clinical psychologist and interprets them in the light of historic and current professional knowledge. “Romantic fiction has never been taken very seriously”. Furthermore, there exists the “peculiar” belief that love matters far more to women than it does to men; love is endlessly portrayed as “pink … perfumed and mildly diverting”. Yet love in reality is as red in tooth and claw as any other aspect of Darwinian imperative. The human race depends on love to ensure the “tumbling of genes through time, from generation to generation” and needs the passion, recklessness and enslavement of an unbreakable pair-bond (for three to four years, at least) to ensure the survival of its children. Love can be wonderful (“oceanic, transcendent and rapturous”) even as it exposes the “civilised and bestial” contradictions in human nature; “we cannot sustain comforting illusions of superiority, cultivation or divinity whilst exchanging body fluids.” Freud believed that we diminish those things which make us most anxious – so perhaps this is why we mock and belittle love and romance. #historicalfiction #amwriting #amresearchingformynovel #bookstagram

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About Hannah

Author of literary historical fiction set in the First World War. Revising my first book, writing the next, seeking representation. Mountaineer, gardener, traveller, off-road runner. Africa, modern history, coffee, roses, films, book and unrealistic romance. NHS midwife in a former life.
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