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Paradox of Love

by Pascal Bruckner Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 272 pages
AU$72.00 NZ$73.91
Product Status: In Stock Now
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The sexual revolution is justly celebrated for the freedoms it brought--birth control, the decriminalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce, greater equality between the sexes, women's massive entry into the workforce, and more tolerance of homosexuality. But as Pascal Bruckner, one of France's leading writers, argues in this lively and provocative reflection on the contradictions of modern love, our new freedoms have also brought new burdens and rules--without, however, wiping out the old rules, emotions, desires, and arrangements: the couple, marriage, jealousy, the demand for fidelity, the war between constancy and inconstancy. It is no wonder that love, sex, and relationships today are so confusing, so difficult, and so paradoxical. Drawing on history, politics, psychology, literature, pop culture, and current events, this book--a best seller in France--exposes and dissects these paradoxes. With his customary brilliance and wit, Bruckner traces the roots of sexual liberation back to the Enlightenment in order to explain love's supreme paradox, epitomized by the 1960s oxymoron of 'free love': the tension between freedom, which separates, and love, which attaches. Ashamed that our sex lives fail to live up to such liberated ideals, we have traded neuroses of repression for neuroses of inadequacy, and we overcompensate: 'Our parents lied about their morality,' Bruckner writes, but 'we lie about our immorality.' Mixing irony and optimism, Bruckner argues that, when it comes to love, we should side neither with the revolutionaries nor the reactionaries. Rather, taking love and ourselves as we are, we should realize that love makes no progress and that its messiness, surprises, and paradoxes are not merely the sources of its pain--but also of its pleasure and glory.

Introduction 1

Part I: A Great Dream of Redemption 7
Chapter 1: Liberating the Human Heart 9
Chapter 2: Seduction as a Market 32
Chapter 3: I Love You: Weakness and Capture 57

Part II: Idyll and Discord 77
Chapter 4: The Noble Challenge of Marriage for Love 79
Chapter 5: Fluctuating Loyalties 100
Chapter 6: The Pleasures and Servitudes of Living Together 121

Part III: The Carnal Wonder 139
Chapter 7: Is There a Sexual Revolution? 141
Chapter 8: Toward a Bankruptcy of Eros? 161

Part IV: The Ideology of Love 181
Chapter 9: Persecution in the Name of Love: Christianity and Communism 183
Chapter 10: Marcel Proust's Slippers 202
Epilogue: Don't Be Ashamed! 218
Afterword: Pascal Bruckner's Paradoxes 221

Notes 231
Index 257

Pascal Bruckner is the award-winning author of many books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel ''Bitter Moon'', which was made into a film by Roman Polanski. Bruckner's nonfiction books include ''Perpetual Euphoria'' (Princeton) and ''The Tyranny of Guilt''.