Iconic Romance Novels To Read Iconic romance novels. To get you in the mood or simply to dive back into key works of literature…
Icon-Icon has selected the greatest romance novels; those which have been acknowledged across the world for having reached the hearts and minds of readers… all generations combined!
From Shakespeare to Jane Austen to Colette, Alfred de Musset and Stefan Zweig – this selection gathers the most eloquent stories about the universal topic that is love. Love, but also passion, feelings and relationships experienced through the prism of socio-political upheavals of their time… This selection of iconic love novels prioritizes the most incisive prose!
What better way to open this selection than with the most tragic and beautiful of love story of all time? Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is arguably the greatest love story ever written. And it delivers even more than reading… it leaves the reader prey to the inevitable, Romeo and Julietis a whirlwind by its iconic dimension, and the fatality of the love that the book tells.
Described by Times Magazine as the greatest novel ever written, Anna Karenina is Tolstoy’s masterpiece and according to him, his first real novel. The story of a forbidden, sulphurous and unconventional love in an imperial Russia imprisoned by norms and morals… Anna Kareninais one of the most iconic stories in literature; a strong story about human compassion and human weakness!
Another great story in literature: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. A complicated, remarkable female protagonist with a strong will who goes against the norms of a sclerotic age — this is the novel about female emancipation before its time, all wrapped up in a mysterious and interesting love story!
A captivating dive into a world of luxury and fantasies, carried by a whimsical and flamboyant love – The Great Gatsbyis a landmark in literature. A colorful and emotional fresco from an era as fascinating as the Roaring Twenties.
The Flowers of Evil stands out from all the works of poetry which preceded it. Before him, romantic poets saw themselves as loners, more in tune with nature than with the modern civilization back then in full bloom. Baudelaire is not afraid to explore all aspects of life, from the ideal of beauty to the darkest aspects of the life of the modern man…
What happens when the outright writer Colette decides to embark on a love story? Chéri. Colette’s unexampled style in depicting her characters around an extraordinary love… “What I especially like in your book is the stripping, undressing, nudity. Although I would like to read it again – I’m afraid to find it less good! Quick, let’s send this letter before throwing it in the drawer” André Gide wrote in 1920, the year this iconic book of French literature was published.
Sometimes, the story derives from the author’s himself. Here is a book which derives indirectly from one of the greatest love stories in literature – we find in the lines of Musset passages from the letters written by George Sand, and in particular the famous line: “All men are liars, inconstant, fake, talkative, hypocritical, proud and cowardly, despicable and sensual”.
An intimate and psychologically intriguing story — Letter from an Unknown Woman by Stefan Zweig recounts a story about obsessive and self-sacrificing love, a vivid portrayal of how much someone can mean to one person and how much that person can mean to another in return.
Love, when written about, can sometimes have a sulphurous aspect to it. This is the case for Le Diable au Corps by Raymond Radiguet. A scandalous work in the way that it undoubtedly tells the most intense and deepest love story in literature – in an ultimate mockery to decorum and the outrage it will create.
This was also the case for the masterpiece written by Choderlos de Laclos. Les Liaisons Dangereusesis celebrated around the world for the way the topics of seduction, revenge, and worldly cruelty are explored— Laclos’ story is all the more impactful because of its epistolary form with letters collected and published by an author of fiction. But it is also a book tinted with scandal!
Yes, sometimes the controversial dimension of love is lived and told beyond social norms and expectations.
And sometimes love defies everything… From death to time passing. This is what the sensational book The Ice People by René Barjavel is about! A captivating and memorable love story — The Ice People is about a love born 900,000 years ago, which indeed persists through everything!
Sometimes love does defy time. At least in the horrors of modern times. Froth on The Daydream by Boris Vian, is precisely this book which marks the mind and the heart — one of Boris Vian’s key works explores the universal themes of love and everyday life, in a waltz just as comic that it is dramatic…
Time passing and all it entails offers here one of the most beautiful love stories in the history of literature!
Modernity is also the theme explored in The Unbearable Lightness of Beingby Milan Kundera… First published in 1984, it is Milan Kundera’s most famous book. An impactful story in which love is fought for or against in the context of a political revolution. A stunning, dark and brilliant magical love story.
Similarly What The Day Owes The Nightby Yasmina Khadra is a novel on the individual power to stand up to history… Carried by a euphonic, graceful and marvelous pen!
This selection of iconic love novels could not be complete without Belle du Seigneur by Albert Cohen. “One could call this book, the book of love. I believe that this book in which, among other things, the wonders of love at its beginnings are recounted at length, is in reality not a secret tribute to passionate love, […] which I abhor, but a secret tribute to nuptial love, to true human love” – Albert Cohen.
Finally… What are the first loves of a great writer like? The Lover by Marguerite Duras, precisely recounts the awakening of adolescence, Marguerite Duras’s, with love and sensual pleasures… At 81, Duras reminisces here her own awakening in love, in a prose which belongs to time as a whole and thus to everyone!
A selection of love stories that are ultimately so stimulating that they risk, above all, causing an indisposition similar to “bovarysme”!