Dear Novels of Sensibility,
I’ll be honest with you, I could have survived without you in my life. And I had managed to avoid you for most of my life. I’d skirted around your edges but hadn’t really dipped my toe into the vast pool of sentimental fiction. A pool no doubt made up of the tears of your many over-emotional characters. Of course, it would be more like a fucking ocean than a pool. I know you were trying to put forward a positive message to be in touch with your emotions but, even you have to admit, your characters are super annoying. Most of your books are super annoying.
I’m not entirely sure it’s your fault but I just don’t think you fit into the world any more. Who wants to read stories about weedy young women who faint all the time? Now, as a lover of gothic fiction, you might say that I should be used to novels where women faint at the drop of a hat. In a way you’re right. However, you’ve basically removed all of the best bits of gothic novels and just left the fainting and crying. Nobody reads gothic novels for the fainting.
One of my fondest memories of you comes from my postgraduate degree when I was studying you. We’d been discussing Pamela in a seminar when our tutor made a comment about Pamela’s fainting saving her from being raped. My friend asked the legitimate question of “wouldn’t it just make it easier for him?” and he was completely stumped. It was hilarious! But that’s the thing I don’t get about you. Sentimental people are saved from dangerous situations because their would-be attackers take pity on them. It doesn’t make sense. If a creepy, pervy uncle wanted to rape you and you fainted then it wouldn’t suddenly stop him wanting to rape you. Surely he’d just thing “bingo!”?
As a lover of all things associated with the Romantic period, I’m glad I studied you and I value the historical context you provide. But I don’t have time for your weeping men and easily shocked women. You’re a type of novel intended to keep society, particularly women, from causing a fuss. To just “be nice” and not complain. You were a reaction to the French Revolution where you wanted to prevent people from taking a stand politically. You’re basically just horrible propaganda intended to mollify your readers. To create a society of men who were more likely to cry over every flower they saw than start a political uprising. To ensure women stayed indoors and fainted at the very thought of being able to make their own decisions. You kind of suck.
I will bear any thing you can inflict upon me with Patience,