- Adventure is novelty, a break with routine.
- Some like a peaceful life; many like “thrills”.
- Civilization gradually standardises life, and makes adventure impossible.
- Romance is the creation of excitement and “thrills” in the imagination.
From the beginning of history, man seems to have liked a varied life. The poor cultivator and plowman, the shepherd with his sheep, felt a glow of pleasure on the day when an encounter with a wolf or a panther added a touch of excitement to their daily toil. In fact, they went out to search for such excitement, for they would hunt the wolf and other animals purely for the joy of hunting. That persists to this day. The man who goes out with his gun is not in need of food, and may be sitting in the safety of a machan, but he likes to feel that he is matching himself against a dangerous animal that has the power to hurt him.
In early times, there were great areas of the earth unmapped and unknown. Explorers went boldly into the trackless jungles of Africa or South America, facing many dangers and often losing their lives, in the search of fresh knowledge and experience. Shakespeare: tells us in Othello and the Tempest that sailors returned from voyages into strange oceans bringing back stories of wonderful tribes they had met, of magic islands, fairies and witches. When men become bored with routine of life, with the daily tram ride back and forward to the office, they search for a kind of vicarious adventure, that is they enjoy watching or thinking of the adventures of others. The demand for this kind of adventure is met by the modern novel, the cinema and the theatre. The imagination constructs adventures and shows them on the screen or in a book; this is what we call romance. For the time being, the spectator or reader is far away from his familiar environment and is assisting in the undoing of American gangsters, or driving a team of huskies across the snowy.plains of Alaska.
There are few practical benefits to be obtained from reaching the peak of Everest or some similar cloud-capped mountain. Life would go on as usual though no one ever succeeded in driving a plane through the sound barrier, but these are dangerous and thrilling achievements, a challange to the adventurous and danger-loving nature of man. Many a war has had its origin largely in man’s love for stirring deeds. In the history of the race, it has been one long fight for survival, a protracted struggle against difficulties and dangers. Now the battle has been won, and man has established himself as lord of the animal creation. He has tapped the forces of nature and made them work for him, and has built up an elaborate civilization. But the neatly dressed citizen on his way to office in the morning, sitting in the well-upholstered motor-car or the suburban train, whether he wears striped trousers and carries his brief case, or appears in snow-white dhothi and turban, was once a primitive man. His ansestors hunted for their food and fought with dangerous wild beasts; and thought he has left that stage far behind, there are at times in his breast a stirring of the primitive desires and passions handed down by a little of ancestors. Since he cannot go out and gratify themselves in person, he goes to the cinema to see Clark Gable or reads the latest novel of Peter Cheyney.
Much of this is healthy and natural romance. It is a clean thrill to see on the screen an exciting series of events, or to read Greenmantle or Treasure Island. Buried treasure, thwarted love that is successful in the long run, the supernatural, discovery of unknown lands with strange tribes ruled by She, all are from the very storehouse of adventurous romance. But unfortunately there is an unhealthy kind of romance in our times, in novels and films which show the doings of American gangsters with deadly revolvers, and which makes the police appear slow and stupid in their efforts. Then there are novels appearing in which sexual sin is condoned, and virtue and chastity are made to seem old-fashioned and out-of-date qualities. These are poisons for the nation, and by their glorification of evil, set an example which may well lead young people on the wrong path.