Contesting Tears: The Hollywood Melodrama of the Unknown Woman / Edition 2

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Overview

What is marriage? Can a relationship dedicated to equality, friendship, and mutual education flower in an atmosphere of romance? What are the paths between loving another and knowing another? Stanley Cavell identified a genre of classic American films that engaged these questions in his study of comedies of remarriage, Pursuits of Happiness. With Contesting Tears, Cavell demonstrates that a contrasting genre, which he calls "the melodrama of the unknown woman," shares a surprising number and weave of concerns with those comedies. Cavell provides close readings of four melodramas he finds definitive of the genre: Letter from an Unknown Woman; Gaslight; Now, Voyager; and Stella Dallas. The women in these melodramas, like the women in the comedies, demand equality, shared education, and transfiguration, exemplifying for Cavell a moral perfectionism he identifies as Emersonian. But unlike the comedies, which portray a quest for a shared existence of expressiveness and joy, the melodramas trace instead the woman's recognition that in this quest she is isolated. Part of the melodrama concerns the various ways the men in the films (and the audiences of the films) interpret and desire to force the woman's consequent inaccessibility.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226098166
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1997
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,132,160
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

 

Stanley Cavell is the Walter M. Cabot Professor Emeritus of Aesthetics and General Theory of Value at Harvard University and the author of many books. These include Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome, In Quest of the Ordinary, and Themes out of School, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Table of Contents

A Note on the Captions
Preface
Introduction 3
1 Naughty Orators: Negation of Voices in Gaslight 47
2 Psychoanalysis and Cinema: Moments of Letter from an Unknown Woman 81
3 Ugly Duckling, Funny Butterfly: Bette Davis and Now, Voyager 115
4 Postscript: To Whom It May Concern 151
5 Stella's Taste: Reading Stella Dallas 197
Notes 223
Bibliography 231
Filmography 241
Index 243
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