Literary Seductions: Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers

Overview

Highlighting the lives and loves of celebrated literary couples, Wilson reveals the depth of their passion for language - their own as well as their partner's. Taking as a point of departure the legendary courtship of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, a courtship conceived on the printed page, Wilson explores how easily, how seductively, literary desire becomes sexual desire, and vice versa.
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Overview

Highlighting the lives and loves of celebrated literary couples, Wilson reveals the depth of their passion for language - their own as well as their partner's. Taking as a point of departure the legendary courtship of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, a courtship conceived on the printed page, Wilson explores how easily, how seductively, literary desire becomes sexual desire, and vice versa.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
Literary Seductions, Frances Wilson's exploration of writing, reading, love and sex, a romp through literary history to increase our awareness of writers who make us love them...is a pleasurable book.
Library Journal
Wilson (English literature, Reading Univ., UK; editor of Byromania: Portraits of the Artist in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Culture) examines moments--which she refers to as "literary seductions"--in which readers have lost themselves in the text and writers have lost themselves in the compulsive zeal of writing. She notes that the classic example of literary seduction, the relationship between Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, is atypical for its lasting mutual passion, which extended beyond the writing. She also addresses the extreme case of Caroline Lamb, so seduced by the writing of Lord Byron (her lover) that she became obsessed with wanting to be Byron, preferring simulations of him to the real person. Wilson's primary focus is on three couples--Ana s Nin and Henry Miller, Laura Riding and Robert Graves, and Osip and Nadezhda Mandelstam--whose lives were changed forever by powerful literary seductions that turned to extreme forms of possession, consumption, and containment, respectively. Wilson has created her own literary seduction and a cadre of diverted readers with this fascinating, enthusiastic study. Highly recommended for academic and research libraries.--Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Lynn Karpen
So seductive was Byron's poetry that only when the poet left the country, it was said, could Regency husbands sleep in peace. So begins Literary Seductions, Frances Wilson's exploration of writing, reading, love and sex, a romp through literary history to increase our awareness of writers who make us love them.
New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
English critic Wilson's study of several notoriously intense couplings shows how certain literary obsessions—assimilating the world through reading, sustaining oneself through writing—become interchangeable with heterosexual passion. Perhaps the most famous example of literary seduction, that of Robert Browning by Elizabeth Barrett, stands in Wilson's introduction for the kind of relationship she is not investigating. Although it offers a very clear case of a passion for someone's writing can be transferred to the author's self, the Barrett-Browning affair resolved itself into something too fully personal to illustrate the kind of conflation of literary with physical engagement that Wilson has in mind. Instead, her model case is the far stormier relation between Byron and Caroline Lamb. Psychoanalysis and the mythic preoccupations of literary Modernism provide the background for the entwining narcissisms of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, as well as for the mutually devouring ideals of Robert Graves and Laura Riding. The chapter on Osip and Nadezhda Mandelstam considers these drives in the very different climate of totalitarian political repression, where the very literal struggle between artistic power and physical force compelled poets to become their poems, and readers to become their sarcophagi. A final note on Yeats finds a rather unexpected opposition between the spiritual appeal of compulsive writing and obsessive romanticism. Although Wilson is not addressing an academic audience, she occasionally presumes on a wider literary culture than should be expected of a general reader; conscientious editing would have yielded more straightforward exposition andtextualexamples, and some needed brevity. Her arguments are, nevertheless, passionate and absorbing, and the overall aim to infuse the acts of reading and writing with a sense of mystery and urgency is laudable. A fascinating, sometimes bumpy ride through the more grotesque regions of literary experience, for lovers of the half-rhyme between books and sex.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312261931
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2000
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 258
  • Product dimensions: 5.77 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 0.99 (d)

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