New Women and the Old Men: Love, Sex, and the Woman Question

Ruth Bradon, Author W. W. Norton & Company $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-393-02849-2
For most Victorians, theirs was an age of reasonably comfortable convention; but for a few bold, imaginative men and women, it was a time for redefining male-female relationships, or what was then called ``the woman question.'' Brandon ( Singer and the Sewing Machine ) here weaves a rich tapestry of the era's pioneering iconoclasts in matters of gender, and offers a careful, interpretive reading-between-the-lines. Among those featured are the ill-fated Avelings: she, Eleanor Marx, the beautiful political activist and daughter of Karl, ended her life to escape her unfaithful husband's cruelties. Another is South African novelist Olive Schreiner, who would have used politics as her forum had she been a man, married to impotent psychologist Havelock Ellis, facing the frustration of childlessness and stymied by her inability to produce a book. Also a focus for Brandon is Rebecca West, whose troubled affair with H. G. Wells produced an illegitimate son. This scholarly work conveys empathy for those who sacrificed themselves on the barricades of a sexual revolution: invariably, the women. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/05/1990
Release date: 06/01/1990
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