I’ve had this word noted down to use for one of my Word of the Week posts for a while now, but I’ve only just gotten ’round to posting about it. *smacks hand* (At this rate, I should rename these posts Word of the Month!)
Anyhow, my slackarseness aside, here’s the phrase I jotted down from an online article about romance novels: “[…] perfervid fantasy of romance novels […]”
Cue me making my “Huh?” face.
Taking into account the root word fervid, and within the context of the phrase/paragraph, it was apparent it wasn’t exactly complimentary, but I still couldn’t quite guess the full meaning. So it was off to the nearest dictionary to find out the meaning of perfervid because, you guessed it, when I pasted it into a Word document thinking I’d right click over it and check the online thesaurus, I got “no results were found”. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
Turned out perfervid could just be the perfect word to use when describing a romance novel. And then again, it could also be one of those words that’s like a nasty little backhanded compliment–the kind that make you smile and start to thank the person for, and then the smile freezes on your face as you realize it isn’t exactly complimentary after all.
Slightly off-topic: here’s an example of a lovely backhanded compliment I once got from someone who is so petite she made me feel like a lumbering ox: “Those jeans look so great on you! I wish I could wear jeans–” *cue tiny pause for effect, to suck me right in before delivering the coup de grace* “–but they make me look sooo fat.”
Sorry. Just had to share.
Now back to the meaning of perfervid.
I’m going to split the definitions/synonyms into two sections. The first section–for me, anyway–suggests a positive connotation. And the second section suggests a negative connotation–kinda hearkening back to that whole backhanded compliment thing.
1) characterized by intense emotion, fiery, impassioned, ardent, glowing
2) extremely or extravagantly eager, zealous, torrid, very fervid, too fervid
Mmm. So is using the phrase “perfervid fantasy” when describing romance novels a true compliment or a backhanded one?
If the writer is trying to convey that the fantasy inherent in the romance novel is intensely emotional, fiery, and impassioned, then yeah, I guess it’s most likely complimentary. (And definitely sounds like something I’d want to read, too!) But if the author is trying to convey that the fantasy inherent in the romance novel is extravagantly eager, too fervid, and even torrid, then that doesn’t sound like a compliment to me. Then again, I gotta admit the description “perfervid fantasy” is at least a step above the trite and yawn-worthy “porn for women” and “bodice-ripper” descriptions people tend to use when they’re dissing romance novels.
A shiny new insult–woohoo! Romance novels have finally arrived!
Seriously, though, if you’d like to read the original article that prompted this post, then here’s the link to Romance Novels, The Last Bastion of Underground Writing by Maria Bustillos.
To sign off, I’d like to say this: May your coming week be filled with perfervid fantasies of the most romantic kind!