• Let’s Not Get Carried Away by The Sheik

    Author(s):
    Laura Vivanco (see profile)
    Date:
    2020
    Subject(s):
    Popular culture, Romance fiction
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/yra8-f754
    Abstract:
    E. M. Hull’s The Sheik is, unquestionably, a bestseller which left a mark on popular romance. It is debatable, however, whether “The Sheik is the ur-romance novel of the twentieth century.” Like many bestsellers it seems to have drawn on a variety of genres and its hybrid nature could account for its success while making it less than representative of popular romance novels of the period. In turn, its longevity and popularity have perhaps obscured the rich variety of its contemporaries. Berta Ruck’s A Land-Girl’s Love Story, also published in 1919, serves as a useful counterpoint to The Sheik with regards to both style and content. Whereas The Sheik is very much escapist in nature, Ruck hews more closely to reality while addressing the same contemporary anxieties around gender which make their presence felt in Hull’s novel. Hull’s tale of desert love is undeniably dramatic and influential but Ruck’s perhaps surprising attitudes towards gender and courtship may serve as an incentive to widen our travels in genre history.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial
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