Unmaking Love

The Contemporary Novel and the Impossibility of Union

Ashley T. Shelden

Columbia University Press

Unmaking Love

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Pub Date: January 2017

ISBN: 9780231178228

200 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£49.95

Pub Date: January 2017

ISBN: 9780231543156

200 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $59.99£49.95

Unmaking Love

The Contemporary Novel and the Impossibility of Union

Ashley T. Shelden

Columbia University Press

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.
Ashley T. Shelden has written a fascinating and important book that is a pleasure to read and which will have broad impact on both literary studies and queer theory. With attentive and graceful style, she traces how the fantasy that love means 2-united-as-1 deconstructs itself throughout twentieth and twenty-first century literature. Unmaking Love provides a major contribution to the fields of modernist literature and contemporary literature, as well as to the theorization of love. Jane Gallop, Distinguished Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Some say that love is blind, others that it is bland. Unmaking Love, in forceful readings of Modernist to post-Modernist writers from Joyce and Barnes to Kunzru and Kureishi, restores not only the ambivalence but also the danger, even deadliness, that the last hundred years of fiction have plotted in the name of love. Love used to be the end of the story: Unmaking Love restores the needling narratibility and reminds us of how little we understand this thing that bears such a seemingly self-evident name. Elaine Freedgood, professor of English, New York University
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. Heather K. Love, associate professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Unmaking Love
1. Lesbian Fantasy: Psychoanalysis, the Legacy of Modernist Love, and Djuna Barnes's Nightwood
2. The Ends of Love: Amorous Redemption, the Passion for Negativity, James Joyce's Ulysses, and Hanif Kureishi's Intimacy
3. Amorous Time: Nostalgia, Temporality, and the Pursuit of Optimism in Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty
4. Cosmopolitan Love: Encountering Difference in Hari Kunzru's Transmission and Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled
Conclusion: Otherness, Cloud Atlas, and Contemporary Literature
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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About the Author

Ashley T. Shelden is associate professor of English at Kennesaw State University.