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Women, Love, and Power

Literary and Psychoanalytic Perspectives

Elaine Baruch

Publication Year: 1991

Elaine Baruch is not only among the most quiet-voiced and fair-minded of feminist writers. She is also among the most far-ranging in her scholarship, equally at ease with the writers of the Renaissance and Freud, the medieval troubadours, and our contemporary polemicists. . . instructive, absorbing, and persuasive.
--Diana Trilling

A lively mind is at work here and a keen and witty writer too.
--Irving Howe

This is a fine collection of essays. . . making many imaginative conjectures and amusing connections.
--Times Literary Supplement

In these essays what emerges is a history of romantic love. . . Highly recommended.--Library Journal

Arguing that romantic love need not be a tool of women's oppression, feminist critic Baruch. . . contends that unacknowledged male fantasies about love motivate much literature by men. . . rewarding, provocative.--Publishers Weekly

Utilizing both Freudian and non-Freudian psychoanalysis as well as feminist criticism, Baruch examines literary works by women and men from medieval and Romantic periods as well as cultural observations on the twentieth century and how they have influenced attitudes toward love.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-x

This book took a long time to write and there have been many people to thank along the way, including some who never saw the manuscript but who sustained me in other ways, especially Gail and Hank Hoffman, Rosette Bakish, and Alice Stahl. For intellectual inspiration...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-24

This book is about women, love, and power in some past and present literary works, written mainly by men but also by women. It looks too at some recent cultural developments that have led to a resurgence of the romantic love that many social and literary critics had pronounced dead just...

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2. Whatever Happened to Romantic Love?

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pp. 25-30

This passage was added as a footnote to the essays in 1910. What is striking about it now is how we have come full circle. Instead of glorifying the object, a salient characteristic of romantic love, we too now emphasize the sexual instinct. We are like Helen and Paris, who were never the slaves...

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3. He Speaks/She Speaks: Language in Some Medieval Love Literature

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pp. 31-51

So too in a way does the feminist reading, which sees at least some of the causes of sexism in sexual fear and inadequacy. But unlike the analysts who view courtly love as destructive to men, feminist theorists, such as Kate Millett and Shulamith Firestone, see it as oppressive to women...

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4. The Politics of Courtship

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pp. 52-68

Courtship practices and chivalry have also left their velvet fingerprints although recently they have been attacked by Marxists and feminists alike as sexist and elitist. Still critics, such as J. Huizinga in The Waning of the Middle Ages, claim that some sort of courtly, that is, conventional...

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5. Marvell's "Nymph": A Study of Feminine Consciousness

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pp. 69-81

In spite of or perhaps because of all the allegorical weight that Marvell's nymph has had to bear upon her slender shoulders, there is one way, ironically enough, that she has not been looked at at length, namely as a female creature. The type of femininity that the nymph represents...

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6. Romantic Narcissism: Freud and the Love O/Abject

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pp. 82-102

"The lover is a narcissist with an object." So writes Julia Kristeva in her book Tales of Love (Histoires d'amour). If this is true, we might say that the Romantic—at least the male Romantic—is often a lover without an object. His ideal is narcissistic love, but even this eludes him. Lacan put his lens...

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7. On Splitting the Sexual Object: Before and After Freud

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pp. 103-121

To jump from Aristophanes to another great myth maker, Freud, in the second of his "Contributions to the Psychology of Love," wrote of the tendency for men who suffer from psychical or selective impotence to split women into two component parts: "The whole sphere of love in such people...

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8. The Feminine Bildungsroman: Education through Marriage

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pp. 122-144

It is perhaps an index of how much we have changed that we can now dissociate women's education from marriage. However, throughout the nineteenth century things were quite otherwise. Hegel, who is merely one of many spokesmen for the idea, writes that women have their essential...

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9. Ibsen's Doll House: A Myth for Our Time

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pp. 145-160

From a feminist point of view, Nora is the new adventurer, a mythic hero for women to emulate, a rehabilitated Eve who has the courage to leave the garden in search of knowledge. There is no aspect of the contemporary women's movement that Ibsen doesn't anticipate and comment...

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10. Women and Love: Some Dying Myths

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pp. 161-181

From ancient times, dual and polar conceptions of women have fed the literary and cultural imagination (not always a romantic one, to be sure). They have been those of goddess and witch, virgin and whore, wife and mistress, all of them often having a paradigmatic and even mythical significance...

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11. "A Natural and Necessary Monster": Women in Men's Utopias

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pp. 182-206

In the visionary lands of perfected possibilities, it seemed to me there might lie, if not solutions to social problems, at least more cogent definitions of them. It is, therefore, dismaying to find that with few exceptions, women are no better off in utopia than any place else. Even in depictions of ideal...

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12. Love and the Sexual Object in Zamyatin's We and Orwell's 1984, with a Postscript on the Feminist Utopia

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pp. 207-229

What kind of love is it that survives in dystopia? In his essay "On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love," one of the "Contributions to the Psychology of Love," published in 1912, to which I keep returning, Freud speaks of men's tendency to split women into two...

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13. The Female Body and the Male Mind: Reconsidering Simone de Beauvoir

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pp. 230-246

And so her book The Second Sex was born. It was, in a sense, Jean-Paul Sartre's baby. But when published in France, it was viewed as illegitimate. The public was not pleased by Beauvoir's discovery that "this world was a masculine world," and that her "childhood had been nourished by...

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14. The Return of Romantic Love: Living the Literature

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pp. 247-268

It was Freud who pointed out in his "Contributions to the Psychology of Love" that sex without obstacles was—well—sex, whereas with obstacles it became love. Romantic love thrives on impediments, inhibitions of the sexual drive, longings—not necessarily sexual—that aren't satisfied...


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pp. 269-280

E-ISBN-13: 9780814723371
E-ISBN-10: 0814723373
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814786093
Print-ISBN-10: 081478609X

Page Count: 424
Publication Year: 1991