Svetosila (svetosila) wrote in linguaphiles,

"feels like a romp" in book and movie reviews

Dear linguaphiles,

there is a phrase that is sometimes used in movie and book reviews "feels like a romp". I've consulted dictionaries and Googled for examples, but I'm not sure still about the connotations.
I\d like to ask native English speakers about its exact meaning. What characteristics of a story does it bring to mind?




36 Arguments succeeds mostly on its considerable charm and good humor. The plot is slight. On the other hand, Goldstein enjoys putting the "academics" back in the academic comedy. Unlike the professors portrayed by the likes of David Lodge or Richard Russo, Goldstein's scholars are excited by (not to mention successful at) their studies — and the book doesn't shy away from their obsessions. (An appendix to the novel actually summarizes the eponymous "36 arguments" for God's existence, with a refutation of each.) That said, for a book whose climax is a formal debate on the proposition "God exists," this feels like a romp. The dialog is funny, the characters people you'd like to know, and the satire very, very gentle.— Joe Matazzoni, senior supervising producer, Arts & Life, NPR.org http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122449146&singlePage=true





There is a variant: "it feels like a romp through". Do you feel any difference between "it feels like a romp" and "it feels like a romp through something" (an example  @walking through the royal tombs feels like a romp through Shakespeare's history plays").
Tags: english
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  • 13 comments

steepholm

March 15 2014, 10:18:47 UTC 8 months ago

To my mind, a "romp" (when applied to a book or film) suggests that it is light-hearted, and perhaps a little slapdash (in a lighthearted way) with facts, plausibility, etc. Shakespeare in Love is a romp.

Not to be confused with the way the word is used in British tabloid headlines, where it means extra-marital sex: "Cabinet minister in romp with carwash attendant", etc.

I don't think "romp through" means something separate - it just suggests romping (in its primary sense of frolicking) through some kind of territory, literal or metaphorical.

meepettemu

March 15 2014, 11:02:50 UTC 8 months ago

I think that it's a kind of 'unpolished run-through' thing :)

svetosila

March 17 2014, 15:05:42 UTC 8 months ago

Thanks for a clear explanation!

I feel I must explain what got me thinking about the meaning of "romp". Neil Gaiman says in his preface to a story by E. Nesbit in his "The Unnatural Creatures" antology: "This is one of her few short stories that feels like a romp". The story is called THE COCKATOUCAN; OR, GREAT-AUNT WILLOUGHBY

Well, maybe I've read less Nesbit than I should (and I fully intend to read many more of her books), but what I did read feels light-hearted enough (maybe not giddy and certainly not dumb, but not dark and brooding either). Anyway, Cockatoucan doesn't feel to me too different from Psammead series. at least.
So it seemed to me that I couldn't agree with Gaiman's statement.
So the "perhaps a little slapdash" angle makes it all clearer.

thekumquat

March 15 2014, 11:33:24 UTC 8 months ago

A romp in the sense of a book is a jolly, easy read, that goes where the author feels like taking it, rather than a very sensible order addressing all important points.

Puppies romp.
Politicians and other married people only romp because "shag" and "fuck" aren't suitable for headlines and other alternatives are too long.

bemused_leftist

March 15 2014, 19:05:32 UTC 8 months ago

</i>A romp in the sense of a book is a jolly, easy read, that goes where the author feels like taking it, rather than a very sensible order addressing all important points.

Puppies romp.</i>

Yes. It's not really ABOUT the subject; it's about the jumping.

svetosila

March 17 2014, 15:06:43 UTC 8 months ago

Thanks!

svetosila

March 17 2014, 15:06:29 UTC 8 months ago

Thanks! "jolly and easy" says it all!

scifishipper

March 15 2014, 18:23:57 UTC 8 months ago

[From the US]

For me, the two have a somewhat different feel to them. In using "romp" as a noun "the play is a romp," it does evoke a playfulness in the work, but does not give it a specific context. It says to me that a work is lighthearted, maybe playful, and possibly tongue-in-cheek. It feels positive.

A "romp through [something]" can be different if the [something/object] has a certain descriptive connotation. In your example, if I say, "walking through the royal tombs feels like a romp through Shakespeare's history plays," I am saying that I am "delightedly playing around or dancing through an environment that evokes the locations of Shakespeare's plays." It feels good and thorough and has a positive energy to it.

Alternatively,the word can have a negative connotation if the [something/object] is negative. If I say, "reading that novel was like a romp through a dusty old attic where everything's broken and you are in dire need of fresh air," then I mean that the novel was relatively unpleasant. Romp in this context isn't positive, but does connote energy, possibly lightheartedness. It can be read as sarcastic, juxtaposing a positive/energetic noun (romp) with an unpleasant context (dusty old attic). It gives the message that I should not bother reading the work.

The short answer is that whatever a person is "romping through" matters in determining the meaning.

In the US, romp isn't really a favored term in headlines, although the colloquialisms, "romp in the hay" or "romp in the sheets" is popular in describing sex.

bemused_leftist

March 15 2014, 19:19:33 UTC 8 months ago

To me 'romp through' suggests not just 'romping within' or 'romping around within', but a romp that goes all the way through, more or less in the right order, and reaches the other side.

Otherwise I mostly agree except about the dusty attic. Romping through unpleasant territory would be a positive way to deal with the territory: jumping from one bright spot to another, disregarding the unpleasant meaning of the context. Like old slapstick comedies about WWII.

svetosila

March 17 2014, 15:09:15 UTC 8 months ago

Thanks!

Romping through unpleasant territory would be a positive way to deal with the territory: jumping from one bright spot to another, disregarding the unpleasant meaning of the context * Seems a wise way to deal with life, yes.

mack_the_spoon

March 17 2014, 13:54:02 UTC 8 months ago

Interesting. As another US-ian, to me, your negative connotation example doesn't work. I guess "romp", to me, is inherently positive.


(As a descriptor about a story, play, movie, etc., I also find it pretty cliched.)

svetosila

March 17 2014, 15:09:40 UTC 8 months ago

Thanks!

svetosila

March 17 2014, 15:08:16 UTC 8 months ago

Thanks!