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“Literature has always been about love; the modern novel has been about love as a problem. More precisely, about love as one instance of the fundamental modern problem: autonomy, individuality, selfhood. Enacting one’s identity, living up to one’s inherited role, offered premoderns plenty of scope for literary heroism; but devising one’s identity, choosing one’s role, is a peculiarly modern difficulty. It has been the burden above all of modern women, the response to which has included several waves of feminism and a line of great novels: Wuthering Heights, Daniel Deronda, The Portrait of a Lady, The House of Mirth, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Women in Love, To the Lighthouse, The Golden Notebook, Wide Sargasso Sea, and others by Meredith, Gissing, Forster, Cather, and more. These novels show women — and men — struggling for self-knowledge, self-reliance, or self-definition against the weight of traditional expectations and dependencies. The terrain of this struggle is love-and-marriage, which is where — at least in the world in which those novels take place — most people have their deepest experiences and meet their most significant fates.” – George Scialabba, “The End of the Novel of Love”

Published inGeorge ScialabbaLit & Crit

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