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Chapter 3 - “The Fight to Be Affectionate”: Textual Intimacy and the Drive to Animate Marriage

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 October 2022

Russell McDonald
Affiliation:
Georgian Court University, New Jersey
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Summary

Chapter 3 examines the discord aesthetic in three cross-sex collaborations that sought to critique, invigorate, or reconfigure marriage. Violet Hunt and Ford Madox Ford in their 1913 travel book The Desirable Alien model an innovative conjugal dynamic that privileges articulations of disagreement and destabilizes fixed gender roles by placing the writers’ distinct textual contributions in unresolved dialogue. I then read a similar attempt to re-conceptualize marriage as a shared quest to negotiate conflict without eradicating it as central to W. B. Yeats and George Yeats’s practice of automatic writing in the early years of their marriage. Finally, I turn from these heterosexual couples to consider the collaboration between Marianne Moore, a celibate unmarried woman, and her gay male friend Monroe Wheeler on the publication of her poem “Marriage” as the third and final chapbook in Wheeler’s Manikin series in 1923. Far from reinforcing traditional gender roles and hierarchies, these examples show how cross-sex collaboration might serve as the basis for truly innovative marriages based on a couple’s shared commitment to mutual empowerment and gender flexibility.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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