The Delta


It has been said that genre is a sprawling literary inclusion that defies definition. Although there are no hard and fast rules for categorization, it is possible to find conventions shared by a group of works, and while these are generally subjective, this is commonly how a work finds its generic "affiliation" (Fowler 265). Within the genre of romance, there are multiple examples of narratives that use interpolated or interwoven tales to create a cohesive narrative by their insertion in a larger plot or their connection to a series of shorter tales. The relation of disparate tales to one another, with a particular focus on the central inserted tale, serves to create a narrative that presents itself more in terms of its layered nuances than its homogenous unity. Not all authors of romances had the same aim in mind when adopting this convention of a seemingly fractured narrative, but the examination of structure can be a useful tool in analyzing the genre of romance; particularly in terms of how structure developed within the genre, especially the earliest medieval romances, and the ways in which critics later categorized these methods of insertion as structural devices and narrative impetuses.