Sweet Dreams: Sexuality, Gender, and Popular Fiction

Sweet Dreams: Sexuality, Gender, and Popular Fiction

Sweet Dreams: Sexuality, Gender, and Popular Fiction

Sweet Dreams: Sexuality, Gender, and Popular Fiction

Excerpt

When we pause over the washing up or at parties and try to make sense of our lives and the way we've 'ended up', my friends and I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree over how best to explain the choices we've made and the way our lives have taken shape. Our partial, fragmentary and often contradictory explanations gesture towards our gender, our class and our ethnic and cultural backgrounds, but during these informal chats we often lay far greater stress on the influence of parents, lovers and friends. Some of us shrug and talk of the shaping force of chance encounters, while many of us also speak of the promptings of a diffuse desire for change. However, time and again, in accounting for the way our lives have taken shape, we return to the novels that we've read. Indeed, what continues to perplex and fascinate me is the force and urgency with which, in our search for influences, we repeatedly and emphatically refer to novels. In the common sense we make and share of the way our lives have taken shape, novels form landmarks, signals, reference points and sources of intense and lasting pleasure. They mean a lot to us. Sometimes we even say that they have 'changed our lives'.

But have particular novels really had such a huge impact upon us? And can it ever really be the case that novels have changed lives? This book is about the complex interplay between lives and novels. It focuses in particular on one specific area within that - that of the gendered reading of . . .

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