THE CONCEPT OF THE ROMANCE NOVEL AND OF THE HISTORICAL AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURYAND IN THE DEBATE ABOUT THE PRINCESS OF CLEVES
In the seventeenth century the romance novel and the historical had not yet become clearly defined genres and still shared many characteristics. It was a frequent practice for authors of romance novels to present them as true, historically-based stories. The aim of such a practice was to raise the status of a genre which had not been recognised by the critics and whose poetics did not reach back to Antiquity. The question of the confusion between the romance novel and the historical was raised in the discussion between Jean-Baptiste Trousset de Valincour, one of the detractors of The Princess of Cleves, and Jean-Antoine de Charnes, the novel’s advocate. In Valincour’s view, the romance novel should be thematically related to the historical. Conversely, de Charnes separates the two genres, arguing that each of them has a different role: while the historical has a didactic function, the romance novel is meant to entertain.