Cruelty and Companionship is an account of the intimate but darker sides of marriage in Victorian and Edwardian England. Drawing upon previously unpublished material from the records of the divorce court and matrimonial proceedings in magistrates' courts, the author challenges many popular views about changing family patterns. It opens a rare window onto the sexual politics of everyday life and the routine tensions which conditioned marriage in middle and working class families. Using contemporary evidence ranging from prescriptive texts and public debate to autobiography and fiction, Hammerton examines the intense public scrutiny which accompanied the routine exposure of marital breakdown, and charts a growing critique of men's behaviour in marriage which increasingly demanded regulation and reform. The critical discourse which resulted, ranging from paternalists to feminists, casts new light on the origins and trajectory of nineteenth century feminism, legal change and our understanding of changing expressions of masculinity.

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