Reading from the Heart: Women, Literature, and the Search for True Love

Reading from the Heart: Women, Literature, and the Search for True Love

by Suzanne Juhasz
     
 

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An exploration of the needs & desires that lead to a reading habit. Shows that reading & real life are interrelated experiences, each composed of need & fantasy, yearning & satisfaction. Novels are not escapes from reality but spaces of the possible, where women can experiment with other ways of feeling & being. Convincingly demonstrates that the romance plot of

Overview

An exploration of the needs & desires that lead to a reading habit. Shows that reading & real life are interrelated experiences, each composed of need & fantasy, yearning & satisfaction. Novels are not escapes from reality but spaces of the possible, where women can experiment with other ways of feeling & being. Convincingly demonstrates that the romance plot of finding, losing, & regaining true love is as much about identity as it is about love. Womens fantasy of true love is a version of mother love, in which the hero of a novel offers the unconditional maternal acceptance that enables the heroine to develop an authentic self.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Juhasz, an English professor at the University of Colorado, explores the intriguing notion that identification with characters in romantic fiction assists women with issues relating to selfhood. Drawing on novels she has read and theories of mother-infant bonding by psychologist D. W. Winnicott, she provides an autobiographical analysis of her relationships to literary figures. Juhasz posits, for example, that Jane Austen was her ``author-mother'' during a reading of Pride and Prejudice while in her teens, because she identified emotionally with Austen's heroine, Elizabeth Bennett, in her search for true love. Connections with other heroines created by such authors as Charlotte Bronte, Louisa May Alcott and Gloria Naylor helped her focus on many aspects of her own life. From reading lesbian romantic fiction, Juhasz was able to let bloom repressed sexual feeling toward women. A close and thoughtful look at varieties of romantic love for women. (Aug . )
Library Journal
Women's romance fiction elicits both analytical and emotional responses from Juhasz, an academic (Univ. of Colorado) and a "fan" who uses object-relations theory to explain her long allegiance to the genre. Thus, "true love" is really the maternal care, acceptance, and recognition that foster the heroine's self-development. The Juhasz hero is a nurturing male; or, in a last chapter on lesbian romances, a nurturing female. It may be a stretch to see Catherine's connection with Heathcliff as "reunion with the mother," but useful insights (e.g., on the difference between Darcy and Rochester as heroes) do emerge. Besides the Bront and Austen novels, Juhasz discusses Little Women, Elswyth Thane's Tryst, Gloria Naylor's Mama Day, Isabel Miller's Patience and Sarah, and Valerie Taylor's Prism. Juhasz produces a critical justification for empathic identification, but in her scheme, the Harlequin formula is superior to Jane Eyre. For informed lay readers.-Patricia Dooley, Newport, R.I.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140168556
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/28/1995
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.77(d)

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