Adventure, Mystery And Romance: Formula Stories As Art And Popular Culture John G. Cawelti
Adventure, Mystery and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture John G. Cawelti
What makes a story popular? Why do some genres and formulas appeal to millions of readers and viewers across different cultures and times? How can we analyze and appreciate the artistry behind the best-selling novels, movies, and TV shows? These are some of the questions that John G. Cawelti explores in his influential book Adventure, Mystery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture .
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Cawelti, a professor of English at the University of Kentucky, is one of the pioneers of studying popular culture as a serious academic subject. In this book, he proposes a general theory for the analysis of popular literary formulas, such as adventure, mystery, romance, melodrama, and fantasy. He argues that these formulas are not merely lowbrow entertainment, but have artistic value and cultural significance. He also reveals the common patterns, themes, and techniques that underlie the seemingly diverse works of popular fiction.
Cawelti discusses such works as Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Dorothy Sayers's The Nine Tailors, and Owen Wister's The Virginian in the light of his hypotheses about the cultural function of formula literature. He describes the most important artistic characteristics of popular formula stories and the differences between this literature and that commonly labeled "high" or "serious" literature. He also defines the archetypal patterns of adventure, mystery, romance, melodrama, and fantasy, and offers a tentative account of their basis in human psychology.
The book is divided into nine chapters, each focusing on a different formula or genre. Cawelti traces the historical development and evolution of each formula, as well as its artistic variations and innovations. He also examines the cultural contexts and meanings of each formula, and how they reflect or challenge the values and beliefs of their audiences. He provides examples from various media, such as books, films, comics, and TV shows, to illustrate his points.
The book is not only a valuable guide for students and scholars of popular culture, but also an enjoyable read for anyone who loves stories. Cawelti's writing is clear, engaging, and insightful. He shows how popular formulas can be both entertaining and enlightening, and how they can enrich our understanding of ourselves and our society.
If you are interested in learning more about the art and culture of popular formulas, you can find Cawelti's book online or at your local library.