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The bourgeois experience : Victoria to Freud / Peter Gay

Gay, Peter.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBook; Format: print Publisher: New York ; Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1984Description: 534p,[32]p of plates : ill, facsims,ports ; 24cm.ISBN: 0-19-503352-3.Subject(s): Sex (Psychology) -- Social aspects -- United States -- History -- 19th century | Psicología sexual -- 18 | Middle classes -- History -- 19th century | Sex (Psychology) -- History -- 19th century | Sex customs -- HistoryDDC classification: 306
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Education of the Senses, the first book of Peter Gay's projectedmulti-volume study of the European and American middle classes from the 1820s tothe outbreak of World War I, re-examines the sexual behavior and attitudes ofVictorians.

Includes index

Vol.1. Education of the senses

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Orientations (p. 3)
  • 1 The Strain of Definition (p. 17)
  • 2 Architects and Martyrs of Change (p. 45)
  • Bourgeois Experiences, I: An Erotic Record (p. 71)
  • 1 Sweet Bourgeois Communions (p. 109)
  • 2 Offensive Women and Defensive Men (p. 169)
  • 3 Pressures of Reality (p. 226)
  • 4 Learned Ignorance (p. 278)
  • 5 Carnal Knowledge (p. 328)
  • 6 Fortifications for the Self (p. 403)
  • Appendix (p. 461)
  • Bibliographical Essay (p. 463)
  • Illustrations and Sources (p. 509)
  • Acknowledgments (p. 513)
  • Index (p. 517)

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Kirkus Book Review

There's no way any scholar, even one with Gay's awesome Germanic range, and the further ""substantial volumes"" he promises us, could do justice to this monumental theme; but watching the attempt will be immensely instructive. Gay (Durfee Prof. of History at Yale) is attempting to trace the evolution of love, aggression, and conflict in the 19th century--roughly from 1820 to 1914--within a class of American and European (English-French-German) individuals that defies clear description, as Gay himself cheerfully admits. Nothing daunted, he begins with a ""symphonic"" evocation of the bourgeoisie's (or Mittelstand's or middling classes') Éducation sentimentale. With his customary learning and relaxed prose, Gay surveys such topics as the sexual responsiveness of American wives in the 1890s (he cites a remarkably contemporary study by a woman physician), the medical campaign against masturbation, public acceptance of nudes in painting and sculpture, the spread of birth control, feminism and anti-feminism, prudery and hypocrisy, etc. In treating these issUes Gay deftly combines social panoramas with personal vignettes, statistics with diary entries. One of his most illuminating chapters deals with the intensely erotic open marriage of David and Mabel Loomis Todd: apart from their flamboyant connubial passions, he womanized indiscriminately, while she counted on his complaisant support of her decade-long adultery with Austin Dickinson (Emily's older brother)--and all this without seriously damaging their reputation in late-Victorian Amherst, Massachusetts. Gay's point, here and elsewhere, is that despite the crippling effects of traditional sexism and religious bias, of gross ignorance (e.g. about ovulation and fertility), persistent dangers from puerperal fever and too many pregnancies--in a word, all the familiar nightmares haunting 19th-century bedrooms--many bourgeois husbands and their (mythically frigid or non-orgasmic) wives succeeded in having richly satisfying sexual relationships. It's an interesting revisionist, if not truly revolutionary, thesis; but Gay doesn't write thesis-history. The value of his gargantuan enterprise, if completed, will lie in its comprehensiveness and wit, its genial liberalism and psychological sophistication. So far, so good. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Peter Gay lives in New York City and Connecticut.

Peter Gay (born Peter Joachim Fröhlich; June 20, 1923 - May 12, 2015) was the Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and former director of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers (1997-2003). Gay received the American Historical Association's (AHA) Award for Scholarly Distinction in 2004. He is the author of more than twenty-five books, including The Enlightenment: An Interpretation, Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider (1968), and the widely translated Freud: A Life for Our Time (1988). In 1967 he was awarded the History and Biography National Book Award for The Enlightenment, Vol. I: The Rise of Modern Paganism.

Peter Gay was born in Berlin, Germany in 1923 and immigrated to the United States in 1941. From 1948 to 1955 he was a political science professor at Columbia University, and then a history professor from 1955 to 1969. He left Columbia in 1969 to join Yale University¿s History Department as Professor of Comparative and Intellectual European History, and was named Sterling Professor of History in 1984. Peter Gay died at home in Manhattan on May 12, 2015, at the age of 91.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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