Unmaking Love: The Contemporary Novel and the Impossibility of Union

Hardcover | January 10, 2017

byAshley T. Shelden

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The contemporary novel does more than revise our conception of love-it explodes it, queers it, and makes it unrecognizable. Rather than providing union, connection, and completion, love in contemporary fiction destroys the possibility of unity, harbors negativity, and foregrounds difference.

Comparing contemporary and modernist depictions of love to delineate critical continuities and innovations, Unmaking Love locates queerness in the novelistic strategies of Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith, Hanif Kureshi, Alan Hollinghurst, and Hari Kunzru. In their work, "queer love" becomes more than shorthand for sexual identity. It comes to embody thwarted expectations, disarticulated organization, and unnerving multiplicity. In queer love, social forms are deformed, affective bonds do not bind, and social structures threaten to come undone. Unmaking Love draws on psychoanalysis and gender and sexuality studies to read love's role in contemporary literature and its relation to queer negativity.

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From the Publisher

The contemporary novel does more than revise our conception of love-it explodes it, queers it, and makes it unrecognizable. Rather than providing union, connection, and completion, love in contemporary fiction destroys the possibility of unity, harbors negativity, and foregrounds difference. Comparing contemporary and modernist depict...

Ashley T. Shelden is associate professor of English at Kennesaw State University.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:200 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:January 10, 2017Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231178220

ISBN - 13:9780231178228

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Unmaking Love1. Lesbian Fantasy: Psychoanalysis, the Legacy of Modernist Love, and Djuna Barnes's Nightwood2. The Ends of Love: Amorous Redemption, the Passion for Negativity, James Joyce's Ulysses, and Hanif Kureishi's Intimacy3. Amorous Time: Nostalgia, Temporality, and the Pursuit of Optimism in Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty4. Cosmopolitan Love: Encountering Difference in Hari Kunzru's Transmission and Kazuo Ishiguro's The UnconsoledConclusion: Otherness, Cloud Atlas, and Contemporary LiteratureNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

?Check your head, and check your math-these are the lessons of Unmaking Love, which brilliantly elaborates the point that 1 + 1 ? 1. Using the tools of queer theory to light up the negativity at the heart of the twentieth-century novel, Ashley Shelden argues that love without aggression is not love. A valiant attempt to save us from the banality of love and from its mortal terrors.