All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion

Overview

An intimate and illuminating look at how love shapes our culture and our lives.
Unruly, unpredictable?love is a maddening deity. In this insightful and eloquent meditation on that many-splendored thing, Lisa Appignanesi draws together psychology, literature, popular culture, and her own experiences in order to tangle with love's paradoxes across the span of our lives. Beginning with the rose-tinted raptures of first love, she proceeds to love in marriage, triangulated love, ...

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All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion

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Overview

An intimate and illuminating look at how love shapes our culture and our lives.
Unruly, unpredictable—love is a maddening deity. In this insightful and eloquent meditation on that many-splendored thing, Lisa Appignanesi draws together psychology, literature, popular culture, and her own experiences in order to tangle with love's paradoxes across the span of our lives. Beginning with the rose-tinted raptures of first love, she proceeds to love in marriage, triangulated love, jealousy and adultery, love in the family, and friendship. By illuminating the expectations, the joys and difficulties, and the cultural undercurrents that accompany each stage, Appignanesi raises provocative questions about love in the twenty-first century: Has the unbinding of obstacles to love emptied it of meaning? Do our desires for variety and experimentation result in increased anxiety? What gains and losses have come from greater openness and equality and the burgeoning sphere of virtual fantasy? As rewarding as it is captivating, All about Love will leave you a little wiser about the emotion that rules our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

A serious attempt to explain the mystery of love by examining it and analyzing it from a variety of angles.

British novelist and cultural commentator Appignanesi (Mad, Bad, and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors, 2008, etc.) narrows her vast subject by concentrating on the Western world. Her sources include her own experiences with partners, friends and children; both personal observations and structured interviews; and extensive reading of psychoanalytic thinkers as well as novelists, poets and playwrights. Freud, Balzac and Shakespeare rub shoulders with Virginia Woolf, Alice Munro and John Updike. Appignanesi follows what she calls a life history of love, beginning with falling in love, wooing, the pains and passions of young love and marriage. Here she examines the different shapes that marriage has taken from the strictures of ancient times to the restless unions of the present day, a topic that leads naturally enough to adultery. After considering the eternal triangle of love, she next considers love within the family: the child's demands for mother-love, the altered relations of wife and husband, the dynamics of the father-son relationship and the complicated feelings of siblings. Finally, the author moves on to love in the larger world—e.g., friendships, a subject which comparatively cursory treatment. Throughout, Appignanesi draws most heavily on literary sources for her examples, providing plot outlines of novels and plays and analyzing character motives and behavior. While her personal recollections are entertaining, the summaries of structured interviews with real people seem flat by comparison with the portraits of fictional characters. However, the author convincingly demonstrates the importance of love in our lives, and she raises disquieting questions about how love is experienced today.

An amiable synthesis of a wealth of material, but in the end the nature of love remains elusive.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393069457
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/18/2011
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Appignanesi, is the author of Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors and All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion. A prize-winning novelist and writer, she is the president of English PEN. She lives in London.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi

Part 1 Overture: The Riddle of Love

Part 2 Configurations of Passion: First Love, Young Love

Falling 25

Coup de Foudre 31

In Love Again 37

Twin Souls 42

That Romantic Feeling 43

Crazy about You 47

The Lure of the Forbidden 56

The New Religion 61

The Question of Sex 53

Excess and Its Discontents 69

Finding Mr Right 78

Inventing Love 88

Part 3 Love And Marriage

Prom Antiquity to the Reformation 113

The Companionate Marriage 122

France: From Old Regimes to New 127

Victorian Marriage 133

Republican Marriage 141

Decline of an Institution 142

Unconventional Arrangements 148

Post-War 161

The Mid-twentieth-century Marriage 167

Unmaking Marriage 172

Today's Unsettled Unions 179

Happily Ever After 184

Trouble in Paradise 189

Reinventions 201

Part 4 Love In Triangles

Adulterous Passions 209

The Way of All Marriage 213

The Green-eyed Monster 229

Contemporary Infidelities 249

Looking In 261

Part 5 Love In Families

Babies 269

Mother-love 277

Expert Knowledge 288

The Child in History 295

Unconditional Love 300

Erotic Intruders 304

Father-love 306

Love's Crucible 314

Siblings 323

Grandparents 331

Changing Families 333

Part 6 Love and Friendship

The Most Fully Human of All Loves 341

Female Friends 352

Shaping Friendships 357

For Better or for Worse 359

Coda: The Love You Make 364

Notes 367

Select Bibliography 380

Index 387

Copyright Acknowledgements 403

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