Saturday, November 21, 2020

Saturday, November 21, 2020 12:30 am by M. in , ,    No comments
Another recent scholar book with Brontë-related content:
Ordinary Masochisms.
Agency and Desire in Victorian and Modernist Fiction

Jennifer Mitchell
University Press of Florida
ISBN 13: 9780813066677 
October 2020

Ordinary Masochisms reveals how literary works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries frequently challenged the prevailing view of masochism as a deviant behaviour, an opinion supported by many sexologists and psychoanalysts in the 1800s. In these texts, Jennifer Mitchell highlights everyday examples of characters deriving pleasure from pain in encounters and emotions such as flirtations, courtships, betrothals, lesbian desires, religious zeal, marital relationships, and affairs.
 
Mitchell begins by examining the archetypal tale of Samson and Delilah together with Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, from whom masochism gets its name. Through close readings, Mitchell then argues that Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, George Moore’s A Drama in Muslin, D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow, and Jean Rhys’s Quartet all experiment with masochistic relationships that are more complex than they seem. Mitchell shows that, far from being victimized, the characters in these works achieve self-definition and empowerment by pursu
ing and performing pain and that masochism is a generative response rather than a destructive force beyond their control. 
 
Including readings of Octave Mirbeau’s The Torture Garden and Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers, Mitchell traces shifts in public consciousness regarding sex and gender and discusses why masochism continues to be categorized as a perversion today. The literary world, she asserts, has repeatedly questioned this notion as well as masochism’s associations with passivity and femininity, using the behaviour to defy heteronormative and heteropatriarchal gender dynamics.

 Chapter two is "Villette's Erotic Experimentation".

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