A History of the Wife by Marilyn Yalom

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Synopsis

How did marriage, considered a religious duty in medieval Europe, become a venue for personal fulfillment in contemporary America? How did the notion of romantic love, a novelty in the Middle Ages, become a prerequisite for marriage today? And, if the original purpose of marriage was procreation, what exactly is the purpose of marriage for women now?

Combining "a scholar's rigor and a storyteller's craft"(San Jose Mercury News), distinguished cultural historian Marilyn Yalom charts the evolution of marriage in the Judeo Christian world through the centuries and shows how radically our ideas about marriage have changed.

For any woman who is, has been, or ever will be married, this intellectually vigorous and gripping historical analysis of marriage sheds new light on an institution most people take for granted, and that may, in fact, be experiencing its most convulsive upheaval since the Reformation.

 

About Marilyn Yalom

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Marilyn Yalom is a former professor of French and presently a senior scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. She is the author of widely-acclaimed books, such as A History of the Breast, A History of the Wife, and Birth of the Chess Queen, as well as The American Resting Place: Four Hundred Years of History through our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds, which includes a portfolio of photos by her son Reid S. Yalom. She lives in Palo Alto, California with her husband, psychiatrist author Irvin D. Yalom.
 
Published May 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 464 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Parenting & Relationships, Self Help, Political & Social Sciences, Gay & Lesbian, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Non-fiction

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Enlightenment France endorsed Rousseau's campaign to restore breast-feeding, and (apotheosizing what Yalom calls the ``political breast''), represented the republic as a woman ``opening her breasts to all her citizens.'' Credit for coming up with the paradigm that united the maternal and erotic b...

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Kirkus Reviews

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Yalom hits her stride with the early Renaissance, offering the redoubtable couple Katherina and Martin Luther as an early prototype for politically charged “republican marriages” in the era of the American and French revolutions.

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The Guardian

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A History of the Wife Marilyn Yalom Rivers Oran Press £20, pp408 Buy it at a discount at BOL Apart from the thrill of watching such dirty laundry being washed so publicly, the most striking thing about attending a recent screening of the Ricki Lake Show in the US was the realisation that child...

Mar 25 2001 | Read Full Review of A History of the Wife

The Guardian

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Although she acknowledges that the place of romantic love in the story of marriage has a history, emerging alongside the romantic novel at the end of the 18th century, Yalom does not regard its construction as in any way ideological.

Apr 28 2001 | Read Full Review of A History of the Wife

Publishers Weekly

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To rescue the dead from oblivion, examine America’s ethnic diversity and highlight shifts in cemetery mores over time, cultural historian Yalom (A History of the Breast ) and her photographer son (Colonial Noir ) traveled to more than 250 American cemeteries across the country.

Mar 31 2008 | Read Full Review of A History of the Wife

Publishers Weekly

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With wit and dispassionate scholarship, Stanford researcher and feminist scholar Yalom decodes the social constructions of the breast as political symbol of liberty in the French Revolution, idealized domestic comforter in the Dutch golden age, modern advertising commodity and source of titillati...

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Publishers Weekly

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The voices of ordinary women speak volumes in this sweeping history of women and marriage in the Western world.

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Entertainment Weekly

Yalom (A History of the Breast) traces a slow, steady historical march toward marital equality in this exhaustive study beginning with ancient Greek and Roman wives and ending with today's married women.

Feb 16 2001 | Read Full Review of A History of the Wife

People

In short chapters with titles like "Curves," "Libertine," "Swimsuit," "Slang," "Pin-Up" and "Bottom-Watcher," Hennig borrows from the fields of anthropology, art history, literature, sociology, linguistics—and quotes liberally from vintage pornography—to create this witty, exhaustive overview of ...

Mar 17 1997 | Read Full Review of A History of the Wife

London Review of Books

It is part of the interesting problem Yalom has set herself that we – the male or female ‘we’ – cannot, should not, be disgusted by almost any graphic representation of the woman’s breast, even while we are being asked to understand and reject the kinds of objectification involved.

Sep 06 2001 | Read Full Review of A History of the Wife

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