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Love: An Unromantic Discussion

ISBN: 978-0-7456-2072-5
184 pages
December 2002, Polity
Love: An Unromantic Discussion (0745620728) cover image


Since the end of the eighteenth century, the pursuit of 'true love' has been enshrined in the expectations of Western societies. We regard this pursuit as our right, and organize our lives around it. However, the possibility that love is becoming more difficult to achieve in the West has begun to attract considerable attention. The consensus is that love is both deeply desirable and extremely difficult to find.

This highly original book explores two aspects of the nature of the apparently socially essential 'glue' of love. The first theme concerns the sources of our ideas about love: where the concept originated and, most importantly, what its relationship has been to morality and moral systems. The second theme is our determination to find love: whatever the social and personal costs, the desire for identification with another person drives us to impossible expectations and occasionally damaging alternatives.

In a compelling critique, this book rejects the high romantic version of love as well as what could be described as a contractual version of love. In their place, it describes a love that depends upon reasoned care and commitment and argues that we should abandon love in its romanticized and commercialized form.

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Table of Contents


Chapter One: What is This Thing Called Love?.

Chapter Two: Going Back.

Chapter Three: The Language of Love.

Chapter Four: The Rules of Love.

Chapter Five: The Limits of Love.

Chapter Six: The Future of Love.



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Author Information

Mary Evans is at the Centre for Women's Studies, Darwin College, University of Kent.
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The Wiley Advantage

  • Develops a highly-original and compelling critique of the idea of romantic love and offers an alternative view

  • Investigates the source of our ideas about love and its relationship to morality and moral systems

  • Explores the determination to find love in spite of the social and personal costs

  • Written in a lively and entertaining way, with many examples drawn from literature and public life, from Jane Austen to Charles and Diana
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"What's happening to love? In this deeply important, and well crafted book, Evans explores the cultural premises underlying our fantasies about it. Over the last two hundred years in the West, she argues, we have personalized and sexualized love, and unhitched it from marriage. But then we have de-eroticized sex, and unwittingly thinned out the cultural soil which might nurture the bonds we so care to preserve. This is not because we're bad people but because we're swimming around in a culture of love we need to radically rethink."Arlie Russell Hochschild, University of California at Berkeley, and author of the forthcoming Commercialization of Intimate Life and Other Essays
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