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Cover for Against Love

Against Love

A Polemic

Laura Kipnis


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A polemic against love that is “engagingly acerbic ... extremely funny.... A deft indictment of the marital ideal, as well as a celebration of the dissent that constitutes adultery, delivered in pointed daggers of prose” (The New Yorker).

Who would dream of being against love? No one. Love is, as everyone knows, a mysterious and all-controlling force, with vast power over our thoughts and life decisions.

But is there something a bit worrisome about all this uniformity of opinion? Is this the one subject about which no disagreement will be entertained, about which one truth alone is permissible? Consider that the most powerful organized religions produce the occasional heretic; every ideology has its apostates; even sacred cows find their butchers. Except for love.

Hence the necessity for a polemic against it. A polemic is designed to be the prose equivalent of a small explosive device placed under your E-Z-Boy lounger. It won’t injure you (well not severely); it’s just supposed to shake things up and rattle a few convictions.

Praise For Against Love: A Polemic

“Engagingly acerbic ... extremely funny.... A deft indictment of the marital ideal, as well as a celebration of the dissent that constitutes adultery, delivered in pointed daggers of prose.” –The New Yorker

“It’s about time someone blew apart our idealistic notions about relationships and love.” –New York Post

“A timely, entertaining cherry bomb of a book.... Smart, witty and withering.” –The Boston Globe

“Wonderfully clever, deliciously written.... Kipnis blends journalistic pizazz and philosophical nerve ... Whether you agree or not, Kipnis’ crackling colloquial style keeps Against Love rollicking forward, often hilariously.... It's hard to imagine even the fiercest champion of wedded bliss not enjoying the provocations of this book.” –Philadelphia Inquirer

“If you think of ‘family values’ as something more, better and different from simply loving the people in your family, avoid this book for fear of apoplexy.” –The Washington Post

“Reading Against Love, I felt invigorated half the time and plunged into the deepest, most morose pit of self-pitying despair the rest of it– in other words, I felt as if I were in love. This seems to have been Kipnis’s aim.” –Salon

“In this ragingly witty yet contemplative look at the discontents of domestic and erotic relationships, Kipnis ... combines portions of the slashing sexual contrarianism of Mailer, the scathing antidomestic wit of early Roseanne Barr and the coolly analytical aesthetics of early Sontag.... With a razor-sharp intelligence and a gleeful sense of irony, Kipnis dismantles the myths of romance surrounding monogamy.” –Publisher’ s Weekly

“Wittily invigorating.... [Kipnis] possesses the gleeful, viperish wit of a Dorothy Parker and the energetic charisma of a cheerleader. She is dead-on about the everyday exhaustion a relationship can produce.” –Slate

“A person would need a heart of stone not to rejoice at the drubbing [Kipnis] delivers.... Funny and astute ... much of the writing is informed and bracing, amplifying ideas about social control derived from Engels, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Weber, Raymond Williams, Foucault and Adam Phillips.” –Chicago Tribune

“[Kipnis is] a talented social satirist.” —Weekly Standard

Against Love is a wonderfully provocative book, daring and incisive, written with verve and no small amount of humor. It raises a thousand questions most of us lack the courage to ask, about domestic life and even the meaning of the human enterprise, while remaining at every instant a delight to read.” –Scott Turow

“Kipnis’ s treatise reads like a brisk, sophisticated novel about the beginning, middle and end of an adulterous affair....[A] bravura book.” –Times Literary Supplement (London)

“This book is trouble ... and the worst thing is that Kipnis is so convincing. A vastly entertaining and smart work of social criticism. Kipnis demonstrates her brilliance at the [polemic] form ... playing a heretic in the chapel of love. An unsettling and witty deconstruction of love and marriage.” –NPR, Fresh Air

Vintage, 9780375719325, 224pp.

Publication Date: September 14, 2004

About the Author

LAURA KIPNIS is a professor of media studies at Northwestern University. She has received fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has published many essays and articles on sexual politics and contemporary culture both here and abroad.