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I didn't see any ancient literature or major literature about romantic love anywhere outside of western civilization.

Wikipedia definition of romance novel is:

The Romance Novel is a literary genre developed in Western culture, mainly in English-speaking countries[citation needed]. Novels in this genre place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending."[1]

Not in the bible. Not in any chinese fiction (we got tons of porn) Not in japanese, javanese.

Even in western civilization, the closest thing I see about romance is in the movie stealing heaven. Of course we have this romantic king Hendry that live till death do them part with 8 of his wives.

Is romantic love recent western invention?

In particulare, are there any romance story that's different from some rich possibly polygamist guy wanting some hot babe?

Sample of answer:

  1. Song of songs. Mate selection story between rich king Solomon and some hot babes.
  2. Some India stuffs. Mating selection story between some rich king and some young hot babes.
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closed as not constructive by Yannis Rizos, American Luke, astabada, Abhilash, Steven Drennon Feb 4 '13 at 12:29

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You might wanna check out the Song of Solomon sometime. –  Shog9 Feb 4 '13 at 3:26
You should probably define "romance" in your question then. –  Shog9 Feb 4 '13 at 4:58
@Shog9: And, apparently, porn too. Perhaps Ruth and Boaz or the story of Isaac and Rebecca or Jacob and Rachel would fit the bill better. But perhaps, the answer is tautological: Western romantic literature is a Western invention. –  Jon Ericson Feb 4 '13 at 5:29
You've somehow managed to make this question even more subjective. Can you put aside your mating theories for a moment and describe what specific traits you observe in western literature that you've not observed elsewhere? –  Shog9 Feb 4 '13 at 16:41
Jim just ask the question, the backstory and your pet theories are irrelevant. The first version of your question, albeit ill defined, was much better than this one. We couldn't care less about what you and your Mensa friends talk about, what we care about is you defining the specifics of the question. What exactly do you mean by "romance", for example? (because you seem to have your own definition that isn't exactly compatible with the more common one). –  Yannis Rizos Feb 4 '13 at 16:50

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Romance is hardly a western construct; it's universal among all humans. Here are couple of ancient Indian dramas with romance as central theme:

i) Mālavikāgnimitram - 5th Century CE

ii) Mrichakatika - around 2nd Century BC

If you dig around you will find a lot more.

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The first is not monogamous. The second is comedic. –  Jim Thio Feb 4 '13 at 4:48
Care to explain why "not monogamous" make it non-romantic? –  Abhilash Feb 4 '13 at 10:24
Tricky. What's the difference between romance and commercial sugar relationship? I am one of the first that think that there is no different but others would disagree. I changed the question to make it more clear. –  Jim Thio Feb 4 '13 at 12:30
Depends on what you mean by romance. I would be the first to agree that non monogamous can still be romantic. Tell that to feminists. –  Jim Thio Feb 4 '13 at 13:14
I updated the question. Based on the updated question, this is indeed the right answer. –  Jim Thio Feb 14 '13 at 4:22

Song of Solomon (as you mentioned in your comments) does have some erotic contents. However, it is definitely a romantic poem, and it is most definitely in the Bible.

I think you are a bit wrong to try to put the two in separate categories. After all, romance is not about finding yourself a good Bridge partner.

Song of Solomon isn't exactly unique either. There was a long existing tradtion of similar romantic works in Mesopotamian and Egyptian literature. The Tamils of southern India were known for this kind of poetry too. For example, Ainkurunuru is a collection of love poetry from the 3rd century BC.

Perhaps you are a bit onto something, though. Europeans during the Christian era became an unusually prudish society when it came to matters of sex. Thus it may be the case that the separation of "romance" in their literature from overt sex may be a feature they innovated.

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