Against Love: A Polemic

Author: Laura Kipnis
“Will all the adulterers in the room please stand up?” So begins Laura Kipnis’s profoundly provocative and waggish inquiry into our never-ending quest for lasting love, and its attendant issues of fidelity and betrayal. In the tradition of social critiques such as Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism, Against Love keenly examines the meaning and cultural significance of adultery, arguing that perhaps the question concerns not only the private dilemma of whether or not to be faithful, but also the purpose of this much vaunted fidelity.With a novelist’s eye for detail, psychological acuity, and linguistic panache, Kipnis at once humorously and seriously explores the rules and rituals of modern coupledom and domesticity (from the establishment of curfews and whereabouts to actual searches and seizures), even as she deftly analyzes the larger power structures that they serve. She wonders: Might adulterers be regarded not only as sexual renegades but as unwitting social theorists posing essential political questions about the social contract itself? What is the trade-off between personal gratification and the renunciations society demands of us? And is “working at your relationship” just another way of propping up the work ethicæas if we weren’t all overworked enough as it is? If adultery is ultimately a referendum on the sustainability of monogamy, how credible is the basic premise of modern coupledom: that desire for your one and only love can and will persist through a lifetime of togetherness (despite so much evidence to the contrary)?Against Love offers no easy answers. Rather it intends to engage you in a commonsensical and brave examination of the plight of the modern personality, caught between the vicissitudes of desire and the decrees of social conformity.
ISBN: 9780375421891
Page Count: 224
Publisher: Pantheon
Publication Date: 8/26/2003
Links: Amazon, Library of Congress,