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Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781853812774

Price: £13

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‘Sexual anarchy’ – dire predictions, disasters, apocalypse – became the hallmark of the closing decades of the nineteenth century. The New Woman and the Odd Woman threatened male identity and self-esteem; teh emergence of feminism and homosexuality meant the redefining of masculinity and femininity. This is the terrain which Elaine Showalter explores with such consummate originality and wit.

Looking at parallels between the ends of the 19th and 20th centuries and their representations in literature, art and film, she ranges over the trial of Oscar Wilde, the public furore over prostitution and syphilis, moral outrage over the breakdown of the family, abortion rights and AIDS. High and low culture – from male quest romances to contemporary male bonding movies (Heart of Darkness reworked into Apocalypse Now), Freud to Fatal Attraction – all are part of this scholarly and entertaining study of the fin de siecle.

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Humane, literate and constantly entertaining
Literary Review
A triumph... gleams with wit and wry insight
New Statesman & Society
Sexual Anarchy is a brilliant, provocative, immensely readable and intelligent book by one of our most astute critics. It will surely rank as one of the very finest literary-cultural studies of our time
Joyce Carol Oates
Showalter moves nimbly between high culture and low, popular newspaper reports and little known novels, mass entertaiments and arthouse movies, and her voice stays even and humane
Excels in the sheer wealth and vibrancy of detail she amasses... gains its power through an allusive collage of insights
Lisa Appignanesi, SUNDAY TIMES