A lively study of five 19th century couples. The title, Parallel Lives, has two meanings: the disparate views of marriage held by husband and wife, and the juxtaposition of twittering romantic expectations and tragic neuroses. Reading Rose's work is like turning a valentine to find graffiti underneath: not a pleasant experience, but a compelling one. The couples could not have been better chosen. Each contains one famous waiter: John Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle, John Stuart Mill, Charles Dickens and George Eliot, nee Marian Evans. Three of the unions were devoid of passion, one degenerated into widely publicized scandal, and the sole happy one was the most shocking of all. George Eliot dared to live with a man without the sanction of either religion or the state.
Little of the information about these literary celebrities will be new to students of Victorian letters. But Rose's anecdotes and insights provide a fresh view of the circumstances that bedeviled relations between the sexes a century ago. Take the piteous marital saga of John Ruskin, the most famous art critic of the age. On his wedding night, the 29-year-old Ruskin was paralyzed with disgust when confronted with the first naked female body he had ever seen.
This trade size paperback is in very good condition with light cover curling and wear.
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