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You judged me with my favorite novel

But for literally inclined members of my generation, the main text on emotional education was the 2011 novel by Geoffrey Eugenides, entitled “The Conspiracy of Marriage.” Madeleine, the 22-year-old book’s heroine, meets her boyfriend, Leonard, at a seminar on chemistry in Brown. Alert readers know that this is not a good sign. The book was set in the 1980s. poststructuralism is all the rage. Of course, the symposium’s approach is heavy with the French theory – Derrida, Parthis – which “disintegrated the very idea of ​​love.”

Meanwhile, Madeline writes an honorary thesis under the tutelage of a professor who believes that the novel reached its climax in the nineteenth century, in the novel “A conspiracy of marriage” by Austin, Elliot and James, and has been in decline ever since. Thanks to the blemishes of divorce, women’s lib and prenups – all symptoms of marriage death as a meaningful institution.

Thus, while Madeleine embarks on a relationship with Leonard, she is on the verge of very fragile phenomena. Centuries-old scripts and novels under attack, and with nothing in the wings to replace them, a sense of impending crisis reigns. “The thing about desire is that there isn’t,” says the semihemologist, officially.

As the relationship between Madeleine and Leonard evolves, bringing together substance and complexity alongside an exciting charge, Madeleine’s ideas inevitably turn into the nineteenth-century imagination that you know well: “There were all kinds of ancient, outdated words to describe how they felt, and words like aflutter“She’s smart enough to not say any of them out loud.”

When Leonard, at a moment of physical abandonment, tells of her rush that she loves him, he responds to her by delivering a copy of “Lover’s Letter” from Barthes open to a passage titled “I Love You.” Madeleine Ecstasy, but Leonard silently urges her to continue reading: “The number does not refer to the declaration of love, to acknowledgment, but to the repeated words of the cry of love. …. Once the first confession is made,” I love you “makes no sense. “

The crisis is in full labor.

The question Eugeneides set for himself with the “conspiracy of marriage” was not only academic – could the novel survive the conspiracy of marriage? – But my presence: Can love survive the death of the novel?

The answer that succeeds in his book is clever. There is marriage and lots of love, but it seems unlikely that the marriage will continue, and Eugenides seems determined to give his characters the freedom to build their future out of his chains. However, its end is vague enough to make some readers dissatisfied. (In this way, it is not much different from “The Image of a Lady”, whose famous conclusion leaves the question of what Isabelle will do, who is now familiar with her abhorrent husband’s behavior heading to his Rome home, as soon as she gets there.)

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