A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, Vivian Gornick's The End of the Novel of Love explores the meaning of love and marriage as literary themes in the twentieth century.
In The End of the Novel of Love, an acclaimed and provocative collection of criticism, Gornick applies the same intelligence, honesty, and insight that define her memoirs to an analysis of love and marriage as literary themes in the twentieth century. She examines the work and lives of several authors she admires—including Grace Paley, Willa Cather, Jean Rhys, George Meredith, Jane Smiley, Richard Ford, and Andre Dubus—to ultimately posit that love, sexual fulfillment, and marriage are now exhausted as the metaphorical expressions of success and happiness.
Spanning the depths of common experience and the expanse of twentieth century literature, Gornick crafts an argument that is as defined by discourse as it is by the power of her language, which is gracefully poised between objective knowledge and subjective experience. In these eleven essays, she comes to see that, for most writers, like most readers, it is the drama of our angry and frightened selves in the presence of love that is our modern preoccupation. The End of the Novel of Love is a strikingly original and thought-provoking collection from a canonical critic.